Caught Stealing From Wal-Mart

What Happens if You Get Caught Shoplifting at Walmart in Florida?

The reasons people steal from Walmart are as varied as the actual people who do the stealing. People claim everything from being unemployed or homelessness to their job not paying enough for them to buy essentials to rationalize their actions. Another rationalization used is that Walmart is a massive chain that makes enough in sales that the company will not be hurt by the loss; however, all shoplifting is illegal.

Does Walmart Have the Right to Detain You?

It’s important to know what gives the store the right to detain you for shoplifting or stealing. There are several things that must occur, but the first is probable cause, which means that an employee in the Orlando or other Central Florida Wal-Mart stores must physically see you grab the merchandise and conceal it as you exit or attempt to exit the store.

Every jurisdiction is different, but in Orlando, employees do not have to wait until you leave the store to detain you. If you are suspected of shoplifting, the staff at an Orlando Wal-Mart may approach you at any time while you are on the property. However, the key word is “probable cause” because this is what will likely be argued in court. If an attorney is able to prove that there was not enough probable cause for the staff at Walmart to approach you, then your case could get dismissed.

What Happens After You’re Charged with Shoplifting at Walmart in Florida?

If Walmart security contacts the police after detaining you for shoplifting, do not panic—the police may not immediately arrest you. Instead, you may be issued a Notice to Appear in Court. A Notice to Appear is described under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.125 as:

“A written order issued by a law enforcement officer in lieu of physical arrest requiring a person accused of violating the law to appear in a designated court or governmental office at a specified date and time.”

If you are issued a Notice to Appear, you must schedule an appearance in court in front of a criminal county court judge. The following process would be similar if you were arrested. Remember, whether you’re issued a Notice to Appear or you’re charged, you do not need to confess to the crime. The first thing to do at the earliest opportunity is to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney to defend you against shoplifting charges on the designated court date.

How Will I Be Sent a Notice to Appear?

You may receive a Notice to Appear in the mail if the police do not issue you one immediately. If you’re later charged with the crime, you’ll receive a Summons to Appear by mail. The difference between the two legal documents is that a Notice to Appear is given before you’re charged with a criminal offense; a Summons is issued once you’ve been charged. Both are official notices in the mail that require you to appear in court to answer the charge of theft.

Florida Penalties for Stealing From Walmart

Stealing from a Central Florida Walmart means consequences that can be extremely damaging. One may end up being incarcerated for a few days, months, or even a few years, depending on the value of what was stolen and the individual’s criminal history.

Per company policy, that Orlando Walmart will not detain or press charges on someone who is caught shoplifting less than $25 worth of goods. Instead, they’ll urge that you leave the item with them. However, as the value of the item increases, the severity of penalties do as well. Florida § 812.014 clearly identifies shoplifting penalties:

Valued Under $100 | Second-Degree Misdemeanor | Petit Theft

  • Up to 60 days in jail
  • Up to six months probation
  • $500 in fines

Valued $100 to $300 | First-Degree Misdemeanor | Petit Theft

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Up to 1 year on probation
  • $1000 in fines

Valued Over $300 | Felony | Grand Theft

  • Up to 5 years in prison
  • Up to 5 years on probation
  • Up to $5000 in fines

If you’re caught shoplifting at an Orlando or Central Florida Walmart in concert with another individual, the prosecution will combine the amount stolen and charge you both accordingly. For example, if you stole something worth $50 but your co-defendant stole items worth $275, you both can face grand theft charges and face the associated criminal penalties.

Along with the possibility of incarceration, there is also a good possibility of being court ordered to be banned from Walmart shopping centers. A conviction for shoplifting can also show up on a background check which is commonly done for new employees applying for a job. It can also be the reason why a company discharges an employee.

What Defenses May Be Used Against Shoplifting Charges in Florida?

If you’ve been charged with shoplifting at a Walmart in Orlando or across Central Florida, it is in your best interest to hire an accomplished Orlando criminal defense lawyer. At The Umansky Law Firm, our defense lawyers have significant experience putting together successful defenses to help our clients obtain reduced penalties or have their charges dismissed entirely.

A conviction for theft can have an adverse effect on the rest of your life, and too much is at stake to represent yourself. The Umansky Law Firm’s criminal defense lawyers are dedicated to defending our clients so they can have the fresh start they deserve. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation to discuss defenses against your specific shoplifting case.

Am I Eligible for Pretrial Diversion in My Walmart Shoplifting Case?

If it’s your first shoplifting offense in Florida, you may be eligible for a pretrial diversion program, which will ultimately lead to a dismissal of your theft charges. Pretrial diversion is an offer made by the state to drop the theft charges against you if you abide by specific conditions. The typical requirement for a first-time theft charge is that you attend an educational counseling course. After diversion intervention is approved, you may have to attend an anti-theft class, complete community service, and submit monthly reports to a pretrial diversion officer.

 

Criminal defense lawyers at The Umansky Law Firm will pursue having your shoplifting case sealed or expunged so it does not appear on your record. Contact our law firm to go over your pretrial diversion eligibility and other defense strategies that may be used in your Walmart shoplifting case.

Make Sure Your Rights are Protected

The security team at the Walmart stores in local communities like Orlando, Ocoee, and Oviedo does not have much authority when dealing with suspected shoplifters. They are allowed to keep you from leaving the property, but they do not have the right to confine you to a small room or force you to answer any questions. They can only detain you for a “reasonable” amount of time as well. Remember, you may ask for a lawyer at any time.

If the store does find that you have taken merchandise, they have every right to call law enforcement and have you charged with shoplifting. Both the police and store security will be asking questions that may incriminate you, but you must exercise your right to an attorney and remain silent until he or she arrives.

Have You Been Caught Shoplifting From a Florida Walmart?

If you or someone you know has been charged with stealing from Walmart in the Orlando area, please feel free to give us a call at The Umansky Law Firm. As former prosecutors who have tried hundreds of Florida courtroom cases, we have the experience that your situation needs. Our theft defense attorneys help you and advise you on the best defense against these charges. Call The Umansky Law Firm today at 407-228-3838 for a free case evaluation.

Frequently Asked Questions About Stealing From Walmart

What is Walmart’s shoplifting policy in 2019?

Per company policy, Walmart will not detain or press charges on someone who is caught shoplifting less than $25 worth of goods. Instead, they’ll urge that you leave the item with them. However, as the value of the item increases, the severity of penalties do as well.

How do you get Walmart to drop shoplifting charges?

To get Walmart to drop shoplifting charges, speak with an attorney at The Umansky Law Firm so an a criminal defense lawyer can learn the details of your case and advise how to proceed further.

How long does Walmart have to press charges for shoplifting?

The security team at Walmart doesn’t have much authority when dealing with suspected shoplifters. They’re allowed to keep you from leaving the property, but can only detain you for a “reasonable” amount of time. You can ask for a lawyer at any time.

What happens if you get caught shoplifting at Walmart?

Per their company policy, Walmart will not detain or press charges against someone who is caught shoplifting less than $25 worth of goods. Instead, they’ll urge you to leave the item with them. However, as the value of the item increases, so does the penalty with charges ranging from a second-degree charge Petit Theft, to a first-degree charge for Petit Theft, up to a felony charge for Grand Theft.

What is the penalty for first offense shoplifting at Walmart?

Even if it’s your first offense, you may end up being incarcerated for a few days, months, or even a few years, depending on the value of what was stolen and your criminal history. If the value is under $100, it’s considered a second-degree misdemeanor that’s punishable with up to 60 days in jail, 6 months probation, and up to $500 in fines. The higher the value of the items shoplifted, the more severe the charge and penalty.


References

1. Florida Theft/Shoplifting Statute 812.015
2. Walmart Shoplifting & Loss Prevention Procedures – 2018
3. How Walmart Is Pushing Prosecutors To Increase Severity of Shoplifting Charges