People from all walks of life can find themselves accused of shoplifting. It could be a young father accused of stealing baby formula or an older woman struggling with opioid addiction. No matter who you are, though, shoplifting charges are serious.

The charges – and possible penalties – can become even harsher if certain factors were involved in an alleged shoplifting incident.

Factors that make a charge go from bad to worse

Imagine you are accused of shoplifting an item valued at $90. You can face additional or upgraded charges if:

  1. You have a record. Having a history of shoplifting can result in upgraded charges. Per Florida laws, a first shoplifting offense may result in second-degree misdemeanor charges, while a second offense can result in a first-degree misdemeanor. Subsequent violations can result in a felony.
  2. The store banned you from the premises. If a store bans you, returning to it is trespassing. And in states including Florida, trespassing to commit an offense is burglary, as this NRP article discusses. Burglary is a felony charge. 
  3. You are accused of being part of an organized retail theft group. Organized retail crime costs businesses a lot of money. Thus, evidence of being part of one of these groups can motivate stores and prosecutors to seek especially harsh penalties, even for minor offenses.
  4. The value of the goods is higher than $100. You might think that all you stole was some makeup and jewelry, but items like that can add up quickly. And instead of facing a second-degree petit theft charge, you could be looking at a first-degree misdemeanor if the goods are worth between $101 and $300 or grand theft (a felony) if they are worth between $301 to $5,000

Any criminal charge stemming from a shoplifting allegation is serious. However, these factors can mean harsher penalties, longer sentences and higher fines. 

Therefore, challenging these components to seek reduced or dismissed charges can be critical in protecting you from unnecessarily harsh consequences.