Even after reaching the age of majority, many people still succumb to peer pressure, an unexplainable desire for something, or a real need for a particular product to care for a child or other member of the family. Sometimes, the thrill of possibly getting caught or the lack of income leads to acts of shoplifting. This is not an activity that only minors engage in when they want some candy or a toy. Adults also take things on occasion. Sometimes, purely by accident, store items end up in places they should not be, become forgotten, and then cause serious problems for an individual.
Getting caught attempting to leave a store with something that has been concealed in clothing, a purse or backpack, or in a bag of purchased items can still result in criminal charges being pressed against someone. Leaving the store does not need to occur for the store to press charges. Returning the items does not work as legal protection against prosecution, either.
Smaller value amounts of the items stolen, or nearly stolen, can result in a fine of up to $500 and 60 days in jail. Greater values can earn a person a fine of $1000 and up to a year’s time in jail. Conviction also helps stores file civil suits to recover damages of triple the value of merchandise that an individual steals or attempts to steal, in addition to any legal costs the store incurs.
Extenuating circumstances, such as confusion caused by a child’s temper tantrum, someone else placing an item in your bag while you chat with a friend as you leave the store, or other such common occurrences can provide you with valid defenses to shoplifting charges. While it might seem like a minor charge because it is termed petit theft Florida prosecutors see this as a strictly criminal activity, without any possible explanation except the ones they consider. A good attorney can help show the judge a different story that also must be considered before ruling on the case takes place.
In addition to the incarceration and fines involved, losing your license to drive afterward can severely impact your ability to find employment once you have been released from jail. Defending yourself from such charges successfully requires retaining an attorney immediately after the charges are brought against you. Being found not guilty of such charges also protects you from civil suits filed against you by the store.