A 25 year old homeless Lecanto, Florida woman was arrested at a Wal-Mart just before Christmas on a charge of petit theft which is considered a misdemeanor here.
Josseleen Lopez’s troubles began when she was spotted driving around the large Wal-Mart store on a motorized shopping trolley, helping herself to some of the store’s produce. Rather strangely, store surveillance personnel watched her drive around the store with a half empty bottle of wine but didn’t seem to take any initial action. In fact, the report from the loss prevention employee indicates they just watched Lopez sample various food items, open them up and consume them one by one as well as bottles of wine, but didn’t take any action until she ate and drank quite a large amount.
She was alleged to have drunk two whole bottles of red wine as well as eaten some mini-rolls, sushi, cinnamon rolls and then she tackled a whole rotisserie chicken. The total value of the food and drink she consumed was estimated to be just over $32.00, quite a bargain indeed. Hungry or not, she sure had good taste.
The store employees then apprehended Lopez and held her until officers from the county Sherriff’s Office arrived who asked her what she was doing and searched her bag. She said that she was celebrating the end of her drug dependence time, but became very hungry and decided that it was better to consume some food inside the store rather than remove it and take it outside to consume it.
Officers allege that she also had three syringes inside her bag and when asked about them, it is alleged that she said she used them to “shoot up meth”. It was reported that the young woman also said that she knew that she was doing wrong, but still went ahead and consumed the food and wine. There was no explanation from Wal-Mart why store surveillance employees spent so much time watching Ms Lopez until they decided to approach her. It doesn’t seem that she was trying to conceal what she was doing and was quite openly eating and drinking the produce so she could easily have been stopped.
Lopez was charged with petit theft and possession of drug paraphernalia (the empty syringes) and held on $1,000 bond.
Petit theft in Florida is yet another statute with quite severe penalties. It tends to be an offense committed in stores and supermarkets but is not just confined to these situations. Legally, a petit theft is one where the offender deliberately steals less than $300 of cash or goods from an individual person or a business. As the amount could be very small, there are likely to be many situations where there might be doubt whether a crime of petit theft has actually been carried out. Prosecutors do have to prove (beyond doubt as far as a jury is concerned) that the accused took the money or goods knowingly to “deprive” the owner, in other words they must know they are doing something wrong.
Penalties for a first offense when the amount allegedly involved is less than $100.00, include up to 60 days in a county jail (and potentially the loss of driving privileges of up to 6 months if the theft involves gasoline and a car was used to attempt to steal it), while a second offense ups the penalties to a potential one year in jail and the same period loss in driving privileges. If the amount is $100.00 or more but less than $300.00, the penalty can include up to 1 year in jail and is a first degree misdemeanor. Offenses involving $300.00 or more are considered Grand Thefts and are Felonies of different degrees, depending again on the amount of the intended loss.
Without an aggressive defense provided by an experienced and determined Miami criminal defense attorney, the penalties for a crime such as this are likely to direct the accused into jail or state prison, together with the acquisition of a dishonesty criminal record which can affect the person for a very long time, even after they have served their sentence.
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If you have any questions about this or any other criminal accusation, call Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Albert Quirantes at: 305-644-1800 or visit our homepage www.CriminalDefendant.com for a direct link to the office or a text message or a map and directions to our office.