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Many view shoplifting as a crime that is not serious. While a first time offender may be able escape serious charges, a repeat offender runs the risk at having a permanent stain on their criminal record. The value of the goods stolen determines how serious of penalties an individual is going to have to face for shoplifting charges.

  • What penalties come with being found guilty for shoplifting charges?
  • What alternatives can an experienced lawyer get their client as opposed to jail time or the retail theft crime going on their permanent record?
  • What is the goal of an attorney when defending shoplifting cases?

In Miami, Florida shoplifting is looked at by the court of law very seriously. How serious the punishment that guilty parties will be given depends on a few different determining factors. One factor is the charged parties criminal background. Do they have a history of shoplifting? Do they have any other type of criminal past? What was the total value of the property taken during the retail theft? Another determining factor of how serious a punishment a guilty individual will get for shoplifting depends on the actions that a store owner wants to take to pursue retail theft charges. Some storeowners take merchant theft much more serious then others.

An individual found guilty of shoplifting can receive the following penalties depending on the following circumstances:

  • If the value of goods was determined to be less then $300 the shoplifting charge is considered to be a misdemeanor offense. If it is the charged person’s first offense and they have an attorney, the penalties will most likely be small fines, community service and/or participating in a diversion program. It is even possible to have the charges dropped all together.
  • If a person charged with retail theft has a past history of shoplifting the penalties will likely be more severe. The more times an individual has been charged with shoplifting the more severe the penalties will get each time.
  • If the value of the goods stolen is estimated to be $300 or more then the penalties for a guilty verdict in a merchant theft case can include jail time, community service hours, and other serious penalties that can scar a person’s permanent record.


In Miami, Florida a lawyer who has experience in dealing with shoplifting charges can be a huge asset to helping a defendant. An attorney with experience will be able to put together a good defense strategy to help their client receive reduced penalties or have their charges dropped completely. If in fact the charged individual is found guilty of shoplifting and has an attorney on their side one of the following alternatives to fines, jail time and a permanent record can be negotiated:

  • Diversion programs (these lead to charges being dismissed)
  • Community service
  • Counseling and therapy
  • House arrest
  • Restitution (paying back the store the value of the goods that were stolen)
  • Drug and alcohol rehab (in many cases individuals shoplift in an attempt to support a drug and alcohol problem)

Make not mistake about it, even though shoplifting and retail theft may seem like small crimes they are crimes that can leave a person with a felony charge on their permanent record.  The goal of any reputable attorney when it comes to merchant theft is to do everything in their power to make sure that their client is not convicted and avoid having the charge go on an individuals permanent record as that could tarnish their clients reputation and make it difficult for them to gain future employment.

If you or someone you know has been charged with the crime of shoplifting do not take the chance of fighting the charges without the help of an attorney who has had success defending individuals in merchant theft cases.

Yale Galanter

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