Retail Theft – A Serious Charge During the Holiday Season

The holiday season is quickly approaching and stores are bracing for Black Friday and the holiday season sales. The malls are crowded and people are trying to get presents and items during this time. With the increase in volume of people, stores are quick to stop customers where they do not believe someone has paid for an item. During this chaos, some Loss Prevention officers may make mistakes in stopping someone and charging them for the very serious crime of retail theft.

A theft is a crime under Florida statute 812. The theft may be classified as a second degree misdemeanor, first degree misdemeanor, or possibly a third degree felony, depending on the value of the merchandise. In order for a theft to occur; (1) A person commits theft if he or she knowingly obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or to use, the property of another with intent to, either temporarily or permanently: (a) Deprive the other person of a right to the property or a benefit from the property or (b) Appropriate the property to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to the use of the property. This statute describes the elements the State has to prove against someone to convict them of a theft.

A theft crime also takes into account the value of the merchandise. If the merchandise is under $100, it is usually charged as a second degree misdemeanor. If the value is between $100-$300, the charge is usually a first degree misdemeanor. If the value is over $300, the charge can be a third degree felony. It is the States burden to prove the value of the merchandise and that someone knowingly tried to abscond with this merchandise without paying. Keep in mind that because of all the chaos during this season, workers are overwhelmed and may be quick to stop and charge someone for a crime of theft.

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