In Florida, shoplifting is a fairly common crime. However, it carries with it staunch penalties that can be life-changing. If you’ve left the store without getting arrested for theft, you may think you’re in good shape. However, there are some situations where the establishment could still press charges against you. Here’s what you need to know.

Shoplifting Statute of Limitations in Florida

The State of Florida has a 5-year statute of limitations on theft charges, meaning that the retail establishment could press charges against you anytime within that window. This is true even if you were not caught shoplifting in the store.

How They Can Charge You

Retail establishments usually have surveillance cameras designed to capture video or photographic footage of shoplifters. Ideally, shoplifters would be identified and stopped before they could leave the store with the stolen merchandise. However, if you were able to leave without being caught, you may not be as safe as you think.

If the store was able to record video or photographs of you illegally taking merchandise and you are able to be identified in the footage, you can be charged with theft any time within the statute of limitations. While this is unlikely if the merchandise stolen was worth a lot of money, the store may decide that the cost of pursuing charges against you is less than the cost of losing the merchandise.

Avoid Going Back to the Store

It may seem like common sense to some, but it’s typically a good idea to avoid going back to any store that you’ve shoplifted from but weren’t caught. There’s a possibility that the same employee could be working and you’re recognized, or they may have put up your photo if they were able to catch you shoplifting on camera. If the goods that were stolen exceed a certain dollar amount, the store is more likely to put in the effort to find you and have criminal charges pressed against you.

Do You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

If you’ve been charged with shoplifting, don’t wait to get help. You need comprehensive legal help and advocacy as soon as possible, especially if you were charged with shoplifting after you already left the store. Your criminal defense attorney can help you mount a solid defense against the charges and will work hard to protect your rights under Florida law. Contact the Law Offices of T. Martin Knopes at (850) 683-0700 today.