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Retail Theft / Shoplifting


West Palm Beach Retail Theft and Shoplifting Attorney David W. Olson

A conviction for retail theft can potentially result in a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the stolen goods and the accused’s prior criminal background. In Florida, retail theft, often referred to as shoplifting, has a broad statutory definition, discussed below. If you were charged with petit retail theft, felony retail theft or other theft charges, it is crucial to retain an attorney who will pursue the most favorable resolution possible.

Attorney David W. Olson has more than 30 years of experience successfully representing clients charged with serious felonies and misdemeanors, including retail theft, grand theft, petit theft, drug offenses, DUI, assault, computer crimes, juvenile matters, sex offenses and more. Attorney Olson offers a complimentary case review.

Florida Retail Theft Statute 812.015

In Florida, “Retail Theft” is defined by Statute 812.015:

  • “Retail theft” means 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.

The retail theft statute is significantly detailed and prohibits:

  • Antishoplifting or inventory control device countermeasures
  • Transit fare evasion
  • Other measures

The retail theft statute:

  • Permits officers, merchants, farmers, transit agency employees to take an alleged offender into custody and detain them until law enforcement arrives
  • Protects said individuals from criminal or civil liability for false arrest, false imprisonment, unlawful detention

Proving Retail Theft

In order for the prosecution to prove the offense of Retail Theft, it must prove two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

1) That the defendant knowingly (whichever is applicable to the circumstances):

  • 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, and

2) That the defendant intended to deprive the merchant of possession, use, benefit, or full retail value of the merchandise (or shopping cart).

Potential Penalties for Retail Theft

Potential penalties will vary according to the value of the allegedly stolen goods, the accused’s criminal background, and the circumstances of the offense.

  • $100 or less – petit theft of the second degree
  • More than $100 and less than $300 – petit theft of the first degree
  • More than $300 – grand theft

Driver’s License Revocation

The court can suspend the driver’s license for a period of six months or one year, depending on the offense.

Defending Against Retail Theft

Not everyone who walks out of a store without paying does so intentionally. People are distracted by cellphones, crying babies, hurried circumstances, emergencies and just plain forgetfulness. It is essential to hire an attorney who has experience successfully representing clients charged with retail theft, petit theft and grand theft.Attorney Olson will pursue the most favorable outcome possible. Favorable outcomes have included dismissals, dropped charges, plea negotiation, pretrial diversion programs, restitution, community service and other alternatives to harsh penalties.

West Palm Beach and South Florida Criminal Defense Attorney David W. Olson

Attorney David Olson has more than 30 years of experience representing clients accused of serious misdemeanors and felonies, including retail theft. Attorney Olson has received numerous awards and accolades from the legal community, including the following:

Attorney Olson represents clients in West Palm Beach, Palm Beach County, Broward County, Miami-Dade County and throughout South Florida. For a complimentary consultation, call The Law Offices of David W. Olson at 561-833-8866.


Florida Statute 812.015 (2015)
Florida Standard Jury Instructions 14.4 Retail Theft

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