Flaherty & Merrifield represents tourists, locals and military members who have been accused of Shoplifting and Grand Theft in Destin.
Regardless of what you did, or how you ended up here, we understand that you are probably embarrassed and scared after being accused of a theft crime in Destin. No one wants to be considered a thief or a dishonest person, but that is exactly how you will be seen if you are convicted of theft. That is why it is so important to make sure your case is handled correctly from the very beginning.
The Destin theft defense lawyers at Flaherty & Merrifield have been successfully defending cases since 2001. We proudly represent locals, out of town visitors, and military personnel from all walks of life who have been accused of Shoplifting and Grand Theft.
Shoplifting Charges in Destin
People shoplift or steal for a lot of different reasons. Sometimes it is out of necessity or desperation. Sometimes, it is done on a whim, or for the “thrill” they think it will provide. Well, there is nothing thrilling or exciting about being arrested and considered a thief.
Is Shoplifting a misdemeanor?
In most situations, shoplifting or Retail Theft is a misdemeanor offense. The penalty depends on whether you have a prior criminal history and also on the monetary value of the property that was taken. Misdemeanor shoplifting has a maximum penalty of 60 days to 12 months in jail. You should also be aware that if you are convicted, it will stay on your record forever. The record cannot be expunged or sealed. You will have to explain this on every job application you ever fill out if you are convicted.
Keep one thing in mind. At this point, you have not been convicted. You have only been accused.
When is shoplifting charged as a felony?
There are two ways a shoplifting charge can be enhanced to a felony:
- If the property that was stolen was valued at $750.00 or more, the charge will be felony Grand Theft with a possible prison sentence of 5 years and a $5000.00 fine.
- If the suspect has two prior theft charges on their record, a third offense is a felony with a potential 5-year prison sentence and mandatory conviction that cannot be expunged or sealed.
What if I was visiting Destin from out of town and got arrested for shoplifting?
We can help you. If you hire Flaherty & Merrifield before your court date, you will not have to appear in person. We will attend all pretrial court dates on your behalf and communicate with you about the status. Click here. You will not be left out of the loop just because you aren’t physically here.
Grand Theft Charges in Destin
Grand Theft is a felony offense. The degree of felony is determined by the amount, or value, or the property that was taken. The maximum penalty ranges from 5 to 30 years in prison. Here are some examples of Grand Theft:
- If the value of the property taken was over $750.00
- Theft from an elderly victim
- Theft of over $100.00 from a home
- Theft of a firearm
- Theft of a fire extinguisher
- Theft of a stop sign
- Theft of law enforcement equipment
Defending Grand Theft in Destin
In every felony case we defend, we have two goals: avoid a jail or prison sentence, and avoid a permanent felony conviction. The circumstances of your case, your prior history, and the evidence against you will dictate what strategy we decide will be most effective for your case. Rest assured, we have the experience to know how to adapt our strategies to meet the demands of your case.
One area we will look into is whether the State can prove the amount of the theft to “qualify” for felony status. Often times, the value is based on the victim’s subjective opinion and we will challenge that. We will insist that an independent estimate or appraisal be done to ensure that the criteria is met.
We will review any security camera footage that exists. Unless you were caught red-handed at the scene, the State will be required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was you who committed the theft. We will not let them just assume this.
We will also prepare your case for trial. It is important that the prosecutor knows that your attorney is not afraid of the courtroom and has successfully defended clients in trial before. You would be amazed at how few attorneys actually possess this skill.
How to keep Theft charges in Destin off Your Record
As I said earlier, if you are convicted of shoplifting or Grand Theft, the conviction will stay on your record forever. Your name will be printed in the newspaper, and your mug shot will be online. The only way to avoid any of this is to have the charge dismissed.
There is a program in Destin and Okaloosa County called pretrial diversion. If your charge is a misdemeanor, it is called Pretrial Diversion. If your charge is a felony, the program is called Pretrial Intervention.
Even though they are called different things, pretrial diversion programs work the same way. If we are able to negotiate with the prosecutor to allow you into diversion, you will be given a set of conditions to complete within a set period of time. A written agreement will be signed by all parties that states that if you successfully complete the conditions, your charge will be dismissed.
It is our job to negotiate with the prosecutor to allow you into this program. We know what arguments and strategies work in convincing the prosecutor to offer you this option.
If you complete the pretrial diversion and your case is dismissed, the next step you may want to consider is a record expungement. If you qualify, we will file for a record expungement for you. If it is granted, the entire arrest record will be erased. Click here for more information about record expungements in Florida.
An arrest is not a conviction. Get the help you need after a Shoplifting or Grand Theft arrest in Destin by calling Flaherty & Merrifield at (850) 460-7470.