Caught Stealing From Wal-Mart

What Happens if You Get Caught Shoplifting at Walmart

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 a Walmart employee 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, they 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.

Criminal Penalties for Stealing From Walmart

Stealing from Walmart consequences 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, 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 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.

Make Sure Your Rights are Protected

The security team at Walmart 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 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.


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