TAMPA SHOPLIFTING DEFENSE ATTORNEY
Work with an Experienced Former Prosecutor
According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP), one in every 11 Americans is guilty of shoplifting. While it sounds like plenty of people are guilty of doing it at least once, it doesn’t mean that it’s not considered a criminal offense.
Most shoplifting arrests will result in misdemeanor charges depending on the value of the stolen property. While a misdemeanor may sound like an insignificant criminal charge, it has the potential to prevent you from buying your dream home, working at your ideal job, and getting loans. A misdemeanor conviction can also hurt your chances of getting into college and acquiring scholarships.
If you’ve been arrested on an alleged shoplifting incident, you need the best legal representation from an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney. Attorney Andrew Buda from Buda Law understands the importance of defending misdemeanor criminal charges and how they can potentially impact your life forever.
As former prosecuting attorney for Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties, Andrew Buda knows what the prosecution will use when trying to secure a conviction. Using this knowledge, your legal team will create a strong defense that will unravel their evidence and create reasonable doubt.
What is Considered Shoplifting in Florida?
In Florida, shoplifting is considered a criminal offense. More specifically, it is considered a crime of dishonesty. The legal terms for shoplifting are retail theft and petit theft. According to Florida State 812.015(1)(d), retail theft is when someone takes possession of or carries away merchandise, money, or property by removing or altering the label or price tag in an attempt to deprive the owner of possession, use, benefits, or full retail value. The statute also considers the removal of shopping carts as retail theft. In order to be charged with retail theft or petit theft, the property must be valued at less than $750.
Required Elements for Shoplifting Conviction
An individual can face Tampa theft charges if they take possession of another person’s property. However, Florida law outlines four elements that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt when charging someone with a theft offense:
- The accused person was seen picking up the merchandise, meaning they did not enter the establishment with the property in hand.
- The accused shoplifter took the items into their possession.
- The items were concealed, or the person attempted to hide the items.
- The accused left the store without paying or tried to leave the store without paying.
In addition to proving the above elements were present during the alleged shoplifting offense, the prosecution will also need to confirm the following:
- The person accused of shoplifting knowingly obtained the property with the intent to permanently or temporarily deprive the person of that property; or
- The person used the property for their own gain or other people not entitled to the use of the property.
An experienced Tampa theft crimes attorney will be able to argue the prosecution’s evidence accusing you of a theft crime by creating a strong defense against the charges. You can count on attorney Andrew Buda to provide the best defense possible. At Buda Law, our goal is to get the charges lowered, dropped, or dismissed so that our clients can return to their lives and put the arrest behind them.
Petit Theft vs. Grand Theft
Florida Statute 812.014 differentiates between the two crimes and details what stolen property constitutes grand theft or petit theft charges. If the stolen property is valued under $750, you’ll be charged with petit theft. You’ll face a grand theft charge if the property is more than $750. While one dollar may not seem like much, it makes all the difference between facing a misdemeanor conviction and a felony conviction.
What are the Penalties for Shoplifting in Florida?
Once again, the penalties for petit theft in Florida will vary based on the value of the property stolen. Most petit theft convictions will result in misdemeanor penalties in Florida, while grand theft charges are typically considered felony offenses. However, your criminal history and other factors can affect the severity of your theft crime penalties.
Petit Theft Penalties
If the property stolen is valued below $100, you’ll face petit theft in the second degree. This second-degree misdemeanor may warrant penalties of:
- Maximum 60 days in jail
- Up to $500 in fines
If the property stolen is valued between $100 and $749, it will be considered a first-degree misdemeanor with potential penalties of:
- Maximum jail sentence of one year
- Up to $1,000 in fines
If you’ve been convicted of any theft crimes in the past, you’ll be charged with felony petit theft. This third-degree felony theft charge can result in a fine of up to $5,000 and five years in jail.
Grand Theft Penalties
If the stolen property is valued between $750 and $19,999, it may be charged as a third-degree grand theft felony. Potential penalties include:
- Maximum five-year prison sentence
- Up to $5,000 in fines
If the stolen property is valued between $20,000 and $99,999, this would be considered second-degree grand theft felony. Penalties may include:
- 15-year maximum prison sentence
- Up to $10,000 in fines
A first-degree grand theft felony occurs when the stolen property is valued over $100,000. For this crime, penalties may include:
- 30-year maximum prison sentence
- Up to $10,000 in fines
A felony grand theft charge is a serious offense. When you’re facing these criminal charges, average criminal defense attorneys won’t do. You need an experienced grand theft attorney who knows what it takes to fight against a felony conviction. Contact our law firm today to discuss your charges with attorney Andrew Buda.
Can Shoplifting Charges Be Expunged?
If you were charged with petit theft under Statute 812.014 and your charges were either dropped or dismissed, you may be eligible for expungement. In order to qualify for an expunged record, you cannot have any other convictions in Florida.
Retail theft can have serious consequences, but if this is your first offense, you may qualify to participate in a diversion program. Those charged with their first theft offense may be able to participate in the diversion program conducted by the State Attorney’s Office. This program is used to “divert” cases away from the court by making individuals participate in community service, theft prevention classes, and more.
Unfortunately, if your petit theft arrest resulted in a conviction, you will not be eligible to expunge your record. Even a misdemeanor conviction does not qualify for an expungement.
This is why finding an experienced criminal defense attorney to handle your criminal case is so important. Tampa expungement attorney Andrew Buda understands the severity of a misdemeanor conviction and how it can remain on your criminal record forever and will work hard on your behalf to fight these charges.
Do I Need a Criminal Defense Attorney for Shoplifting Charges?
When facing criminal charges, it’s never smart to represent yourself. You may not believe that a misdemeanor charge requires experienced legal representation, but it can mean the difference between a conviction, participation in a diversion program, or even walking away scot-free. Anytime you’re accused of a crime, you can face serious consequences that can remain with you for the rest of your life.
That is why hiring a Tampa theft crimes attorney is crucial when facing either petit or grand theft charges. An attorney like Andrew Buda will be able to craft a strong defense against the charges and work to disprove the prosecution’s evidence against you. As a former prosecuting attorney, he knows exactly what strategies the prosecution will use in order to get their conviction.
Attorney Andrew Buda has used a variety of defenses when representing clients against theft charges. For example, the law enforcement officer or eyewitness may have made a mistake when identifying you as the perpetrator. If that’s the case, you’ve been the victim of mistaken identity and, therefore, falsely accused of the crime. These are the kind of things your criminal defense attorney will look for and why it is so important that you equip the help of one as soon as possible.
Call Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Andrew Buda at Buda Law Today
Attorney Andrew Buda has experience handling all types of theft offenses, from shoplifting to grand theft, employee theft, burglary, and more. If you’re looking for the best criminal defense attorney in Tampa, look no further than Andrew Buda at Buda Law.