Shoplifting is sometimes called the “Five Finger Discount,” and in the public perception has a reputation as a minor crime. Young people often steal things from big stores as a dare. Older people just steal because they think they can get away with it, or they are poor.
As a category of theft it is different from burglary and robbery, as well as other forms of retail theft such a credit card fraud or price switching. Burglary involves unlawful breaking into a building or vehicle in order to remove money or property. Robbery involves the taking of money or property from someone else by force. Shoplifting is the theft of merchandise from a store or other place of business. Perhaps because it doesn’t involve violence or intrusion onto someone else’s property, it doesn’t have the same negative connotations as other forms of theft.
Shoplifting is a very easy crime and a very common one, too. One survey estimated that one in eleven Americans had at one time or another been involved in a little (or a lot) of shoplifting. That means that 27 million Americans have been shoplifting at some point in their lives. Over 10 million have been taking advantage of their “five finger discount” in the last 5 years and have been caught doing it.
One of the studies was by an organization called “NASP,” the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention. NASP’s research suggests that there is no particular age or gender group who turns to shoplifting. It’s not a skilled crime. All it takes is a hand, a bag, deep pockets or a coat and the brazen gall to walk out of a store with some goods. 25% of shoplifters are kids and it doesn’t seem that regular shoplifters steal goods in a premeditated way although once they get into the habit of shoplifting it seems harder to stop. Most shoplifters are not professional thieves, but they do not steal as much as the pros per person.
Not everyone charged with shoplifting did it intentionally
Not everyone who is caught shoplifting intended to take items from the store they were in. You don’t have to be absent minded or suffering from dementia to walk out of a store carrying something in a basket or bag that you had forgotten to pay for or didn’t even realize was there. The trend towards paying for goods at self-service machines makes accidental, rather than deliberate, shoplifting probably more common, although there is no definitive data showing that this is true or not.
If you have been approached by a store worker or security staff outside of a store and it is discovered that you have store goods on you which you haven’t paid for, the action taken could be very varied. It depends on how you react, how uncompromising the store management is and the value of what is discovered. If police are called, you may have to explain why you didn’t pay for the goods at the nearest police station. You may be charged with retail theft. You will then need the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you and fight any charges that are laid against you which are not justified.
Penalties for shoplifting
In Florida, the crime of retail theft may result in a fine and a spell in a county jail if it is a first offense. If the value of the items taken was less than $100, you may be charged with ‘petit theft.’ This offense is classified as a misdemeanor in the second degree and if convicted, could result in a fine of up to $500 and a jail sentence of up to 6 days. More serious is that you could be saddled with a criminal conviction and the long term effect on your life and that of your loved ones would be worse than paying a fine and the embarrassment involved.
If you have been wrongly with shoplifting you will need the services of a dedicated criminal defense attorney to defend your right to justice. Call the Law Firm of Albert Quirantes Esq. at his office at 305-644-1800.
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For over 30 years, Miami criminal defense attorney Albert M. Quirantes has been aggressively and zealously defending the rights of those accused of felony and misdemeanor crimesthroughout South Florida. With his dedicated team, reasonable legal fees, and a well-earned reputation for challenging prosecutors at every turn, he has protected over 8,000 clients during some of the roughest times of their lives.
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