The team at Blake & Dorsten, P.A. represents people charged with a wide variety of theft misdemeanors and felonies, including those related to shoplifting. Being charged with a crime in Florida is a serious matter that may come with significant and long-lasting consequences. Our Tampa Bay shoplifting defense lawyers are former state prosecutors. We know how to build strategic defenses for the people whom we represent, and we work proactively to try to get charges dropped or reduced whenever possible. Our theft crime attorneys guide clients through the criminal justice process with experience, compassion, and professionalism.
Florida law defines retail theft 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.” In other words, it generally involves the intentional taking of any type of merchandise without paying the required price for it.Penalties for Shoplifting
Shoplifting is one of those crimes that might seem like a relatively minor offense. The truth is that it is a form of theft that law enforcement takes seriously and that in many cases will be elevated from a misdemeanor to a felony. A conviction also means a criminal record, which often carries a public stigma and may make it difficult to find and keep a job. This is why it is important that a person suspected of or charged with shoplifting seek the counsel of an experienced shoplifting defense attorney in the Tampa Bay area.
The penalty for a shoplifting conviction generally depends on the value of the items involved. Petty theft is the theft of property worth between $100 and $300. It is generally treated as a first-degree misdemeanor, and it is punishable by up to one year in prison and as much as $1,000 in fines. When the property is worth $300 to $5,000, the crime becomes grand theft, a third-degree felony. That offense is punishable by up to five years in prison and as much as $5,000 in fines. The possible jail time and fines continue to increase with the value of the items involved.Defenses in Shoplifting Cases
It is important for a person charged with a crime to remember that the burden of proof at all times rests with the prosecutors. This means that prosecutors are required to convince a judge or jury beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime with which you have been charged. Evidence that you are more likely than not guilty is not enough to get a conviction.
Many shoplifting and other theft cases are decided on questions of intent. In order to get a conviction, prosecutors need to show that you intended to steal the items. They often rely on circumstantial evidence – related to where the items were found and how they came to be in your possession – to make that case. Still, a simple mistake is not a crime under state law. Intent also comes into play when valuing the items involved. The prosecutors need to show that you intended to steal each and every item from which the charge arises.Discuss Your Charges with a Shoplifting Defense Lawyer in the Tampa Bay Area
At Blake & Dorsten, P.A., we are dedicated to fighting aggressively for clients in shoplifting and other theft cases. We are familiar with the legal issues that often come up in these cases, and we know how prosecutors approach them. Our firm has a strong track record of success for clients in many criminal cases. Our offices are conveniently located in Clearwater and St. Petersburg, and our Tampa Bay shoplifting defense attorneys serve defendants throughout the region, including in Tampa, Sarasota, and Bradenton, as well as other cities in Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Manatee, and Sarasota Counties. Call us at (727) 286-6141 or contact us online to make an appointment to discuss your case with an attorney. We are also ready to represent people who need a burglary defense lawyer or assistance in fighting other types of theft charges.