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Understanding more about retail theft - II

Last time, our blog began examining what actions constitute shoplifting -- otherwise known as retail theft -- here in the state of Florida. To that end, we discussed how it must be proven by prosecutors that the accused 1) had the requisite intent of "depriving the merchant of possession, use, benefit, or full retail value," and 2) committed one of four very specific acts.

We also started discussing how retail theft is by no means a "victimless crime" given that those who are convicted face very real consequences, some of which we'll examine in today's post.

In general, if a person is caught shoplifting an item or items worth less than $100, they can be charged with second-degree petit theft, which is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 and, more significantly, up to 60 days in jail.

In the event a person is caught shoplifting an item or items worth somewhere between $100 and $299, or an item or items worth less than $100 for the second time, they can be charged with first-degree petit theft. As you might have guessed, this is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail.

It is of course beyond the scope of a single blog post to examine each and every possible penalty for shoplifting. However, the two above examples are illustrative of the more common scenarios that play out among young people or those who suffer a temporary lapse in judgment.      

Indeed, young people in particular need to keep in mind that a conviction for retail theft can stay on their permanent record, affecting things like employment opportunities and their pursuit of education.

What all of this serves to underscore is that you should seriously consider consulting with a skilled legal professional if either you or a loved one are facing retail theft charges, as your rights and your future are at stake.

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