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Shoplifting / Retail Theft

Many people tend to believe that retail theft (more commonly known as shoplifting) is a common crime that does not involve terribly serious penalties. The truth, however, is that even when allegedly stolen merchandise is returned to a merchant or store owner, an alleged offender can face severe consequences.

Prosecutors must prove alleged offenders intended to temporarily or permanently deprive alleged victims of their right to the property or any benefit from it, or appropriate that property to their own use or to the use of any person not entitled to it. Many people can be accused of shoplifting when they accidentally left an establishment with an item that they forgot to pay for.

Shoplifting Defense Lawyer in Broward County, FL

If you were recently arrested in South Florida for alleged retail theft, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. The Hoffman Firm aggressively defends clients accused of all kinds of theft offenses in Miramar, Coral Springs, Pompano Beach, Hollywood, Cooper City, and other nearby areas of Broward County.

As a former Assistant State Attorney for the Broward County State Attorney’s Office, Evan A. Hoffman is a criminal defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale who has experience handling these types of cases on both sides of the aisle. You can take advantage of a free initial consultation that will let our experienced lawyer review your case and discuss your legal options as soon as you call (954) 524-4474 today.


Fort Lauderdale Retail Theft Information Center


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Florida Definitions of Retail Theft

Under Florida Statute § 812.015(1)(d), retail theft is defined as:

  • The taking possession of or carrying away of merchandise, property, money, or negotiable documents;
  • Altering or removing a label, universal product code, or price tag; transferring merchandise from one container to another; or
  • Removing a shopping cart, with intent to deprive the merchant of possession, use, benefit, or full retail value.

Florida Statute § 812.015(1)(i) also defines an “antishoplifting or inventory control device” as “a mechanism or other device designed and operated for the purpose of detecting the removal from a mercantile establishment or similar enclosure, or from a protected area within such an enclosure, of specially marked or tagged merchandise.” These devices include any electronic or digital imaging or any video recordings or other films used for security purposes and the cash register tape or other record made of the register receipt.

An antishoplifting or inventory control device countermeasure is defined under Florida Statute § 812.015(1)(j) as “any item or device which is designed, manufactured, modified, or altered to defeat any antishoplifting or inventory control device.” An alleged offender who possesses, uses, or attempts to use any antishoplifting or inventory control device countermeasure within any premises used for the retail purchase or sale of any merchandise can be charged with a third-degree felony punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $5,000.


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Shoplifting Penalties in Broward County

The classification of retail theft offenses depends on the value of the property that was allegedly stolen. Shoplifting crimes can result in the following charges:

  • Property valued at less than $100 is petit theft of the second degree, a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of 60 days in jail and/or a maximum fine of $500;
  • Property valued at $100 or more but less than $300 is petit theft of the first degree, a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of one year in jail and/or a maximum fine of $1,000;
  • Property valued at $300 or more, but less than $20,000 is grand theft of the third degree, a third-degree felony punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $5,000;
  • Property valued at $20,000 or more, but less than $100,000 is grand theft in the second degree, a second-degree felony punishable by a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $10,000; or
  • Property valued at $100,000 or more is grand theft in the first degree, a first-degree felony punishable by a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $10,000.

Retail theft can also become a third-degree felony offense if the value of the property allegedly stolen is $300 or more and the alleged offender:

  • Acts in concert with one or more other individuals within one or more establishments to distract the merchant, merchant’s employee, or law enforcement officer in order to carry out the offense, or acts in other ways to coordinate efforts to carry out the offense;
  • Commits the offense through the purchase of merchandise in a package or box that contains merchandise other than, or in addition to, the merchandise purported to be contained in the package or box;
  • Commits theft from more than one location within a 48-hour period, in which case the amount of each individual theft is aggregated to determine the value of the property stolen; or
  • Individually, or in concert with one or more other persons, coordinates the activities of one or more individuals in committing the offense, in which case the amount of each individual theft is aggregated to determine the value of the property stolen.

It is a second-degree felony if an alleged offender commits any of the four offenses listed above and has been previous convicted of one of those crimes or coordinates the activities of one or more persons in committing the offense of retail theft where the stolen property has a value in excess of $3,000.


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Florida Resources for Shoplifting Crimes

Retailers Estimate Shoplifting, Incidents of Fraud Cost $44 Billion in 2014 — The National Retail Federation (NRF) is the world's largest retail trade association, and the NRF worked with the University of Florida on the National Retail Security Survey (NRSS). The report found that shoplifting accounted for the largest part of reported shrink (loss of products between point of manufacture or purchase from supplier and point of sale), more than employee/internal theft, administrative and paperwork errors, vendor fraud or error, or unknown loss. You can find a link to the full report in this press release.

National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP) — Originally founded as Shoplifters Anonymous, Inc., NASP is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization “whose mission is to raise public awareness about the harmful effects of shoplifting on youth, families and communities, unite public opinion toward constructive solutions, deliver needed programs and services and engage community action in prevention efforts to improve the lives of those affected and reduce the number of people who become involved.” Learn more about NASP’s diversion programs, online theft classes, and self-help support on this website. You can also view the results of a recidivism study in Broward County that measured the effectiveness of NASP’s Shoplifters Alternative Course (SA Course) in Broward County.


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The Hoffman Firm | Lawyer for Retail Theft Arrests in Miami-Dade County, Florida

Were you arrested for alleged shoplifting in South Florida? The Hoffman Firm can fight to have the criminal charges reduced or dismissed.

Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Evan A. Hoffman represents people throughout Broward County, including Margate, Dania Beach, Lauderhill, Hallandale Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and many surrounding communities. Call (954) 524-4474 or submit an online contact form right now to receive a free, confidential consultation that will let our lawyer review your case.


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Free Consultation

All fields are required. The use of this form for communication with our personnel does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

Evan A. Hoffman

Evan A. Hoffman

Mr. Hoffman’s philosophy is "our knowledge and experience is your best defense." He has been a featured author on criminal law issues such as driving under the influence, domestic violence and illegal searches.

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