Fort Walton Beach Retail Theft and Shoplifting Attorney
If you have been charged with Retail Theft or shoplifting in Ft. Walton Beach, contact our team today to discuss your options. Retail theft can be an embarrassing charge because often times the crime was committed out of necessity or a spontaneous whim. Although this offense is a misdemeanor, the consequences can be life-long. Retail theft is considered a crime of dishonesty and a conviction cannot be expunged or removed from your record. A conviction can keep you from employment opportunities or threaten your current job.
Just because you have been arrested does not mean you have been convicted. You have options you may not be aware of. You may have a chance to get your charges dropped or diverted. Contact a Fort Walton Beach retail theft lawyer at Flaherty Defense Firm today by calling (850) 243-6097 to learn how.
Police Involvement in Fort Walton Beach Shoplifting Cases
Retail theft, commonly referred to as shoplifting, is the most common form of theft in Ft. Walton Beach. In Florida, merchants no longer act independently if they see a theft occur. If a merchant witnesses a theft they immediately call the Police Department or Sheriff’s Office. The officer will interrogate the suspect and try to get them to confess to the crime. Past clients have told us that before they even had a chance to process what was happening or how much trouble they were in, they were in handcuffs being arrested.
Penalty for Retail Theft in Fort Walton Beach
Retail theft under Florida law is not just a low-level misdemeanor. It can be enhanced based on the circumstances of your past and your present case. To prove the crime of Retail Theft pursuant to Florida Statute 812.015, the state must prove the following:
1) Defendant knowingly took possession of or carried away merchandise, or altered or removed a label or price tag from merchandise, or transferred merchandise from one container to another, or removed a shopping cart from a merchant’s premises.
2) Defendant intended to deprive the merchant of possession, use, benefit, or full retail value of the merchandise.
The penalty for Retail Theft in Fort Walton Beach is largely determined by the value of the merchandise that was stolen:
- If the value of the stolen merchandise was less than $100.00, Retail Theft is a second degree misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of 60 days in jail and a $500.00 fine.
- If the value was more than $100.00 but less than $300.00, the charge is a first degree misdemeanor with a potential sentence of 12 months in jail and a $1000.00 fine.
- If the value of the merchandise was over $300.00, you will be charged with a third degree felony and will face up to 5 years in prison and a $5000.00 fine.
- If you are convicted of Retail Theft, you will also face a suspension of your driver’s license for 6 months for a first offense, and 12 months for any subsequent offense.
Civil Penalty for Retail Theft in Fort Walton Beach
Many merchants immediately impose a civil penalty whether or not they have received the merchandise back. The civil penalty is generally $200; however, the merchant can seek further damages, attorney’s fees, and court costs. You will only have a short amount of time to either pay the penalty or fight it. It is in your best interest to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to advise you immediately after an arrest for Retail Theft.
Successfully Defending a Shoplifting Charge in Fort Walton Beach
Given the severity of consequences for this charge, do not fight this alone. If taking the first deal the State gives you with a conviction is not an option for you, contact our team today to fight for your future. Many shoplifting cases can be resolved through diversion programs, which will ensure your case gets dismissed and removed from your record permanently.
At Flaherty Defense Firm, we have successfully defended hundreds of clients charged with Retail Theft in Fort Walton Beach. We will do a comprehensive review of all options, including:
- Review all evidence, including video evidence, from the merchant
- Speak with witnesses and determine favorable witnesses
- Evaluate whether or not this was a mistake of identity or mistake in purchase
- Work with you to have your story heard
- Compile mitigation to persuade the State to drop the charges
- Review all legal defenses for potential motions against the State
Call a Fort Walton Beach Shoplifting Attorney Today
If you have been charged with shoplifting in Fort Walton Beach, call Flaherty Defense Firm 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (850) 243-6097. We will help you put this behind you once and for all.