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Understanding more about retail theft

When it comes to shoplifting, there is an unfortunate adage that it is somehow a "victimless crime." This couldn't be any more untrue, however, as there are essentially two victims: the merchant who is deprived of their valuable goods and the shoplifter who faces very real consequences for their actions.

In today's post, the first in a series, we'll take a closer look at the crime of shoplifting here in Florida, specifically how it's defined.

First and foremost, it's important to understand that even though everyone everywhere refers to it as shoplifting, the crime is actually referred to as retail theft under Florida law.

It's also important to understand that retail theft encompasses much more than simply placing an item into a pocket without paying. Indeed, retail theft includes committing any of the following actions with the intent of "depriving the merchant of possession, use, benefit, or full retail value:"

  • Taking possession of or carrying away merchandise
  • Removing or altering price tags, labels or universal product codes
  • Transferring merchandise from one container to another container
  • Removing a shopping cart    

Another important aspect which people might be unaware is that state law does permit merchants who have probable cause to believe that a person has committed retail theft to detain the person as a means of either retrieving the merchandise or ensuring prosecution. However, this detainment must be reasonable in both manner and length of time.

We will continue to examine this topic in our next post, discussing some of the penalties handed down for retail theft convictions.

If you or a loved one are facing any sort of theft charges, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible to ensure the protection of your rights and your future.

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