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Florida Cracking Down on Retail Theft and Porch Piracy

April 10, 2024

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Retail theft and Porch Piracy is a growing problem in Miami, the State of Florida, and around the country, with retailers nationwide having reported the loss of billions of dollars over the past couple of years. As a result, Governor Ron DeSantis signed HB 549, which increases penalties for retail theft and porch piracy. "Florida is taking another step to distinguish ourselves from lawless jurisdictions and keep our residents and businesses safe," said Governor Ron DeSantis. "If you steal in Florida, we will catch you and we will prosecute you."

Man Covering His Face While Engaging in Porch Piracy in Florida
"Some of our most iconic cities in our country turn a blind eye to retail theft and allow it to continue, costing jobs and higher prices," said Representative Bob Rommel. "We have also seen porch pirates target residents by stealing packages, often containing important medications, right off their property. In Florida, we are holding these criminals accountable for their lawlessness."

HB 549 institutes the following criminal laws: It is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison, if a person commits retail theft with five or more individuals. The offense will be bumped to a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, if a person commits retail theft with five or more individuals, and uses social media to solicit others to participate in the theft. Even worse, an individual will be charged with a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison, if a criminal commits retail theft with a firearm or with two or more prior convictions of retail theft.

As for porch piracy, theft of property in an amount less than $40 is a first-degree misdemeanor while a subsequent violation will be charged as a third-degree felony and theft of property in excess of $40 or more will also be charged as a third-degree felony. "If you order something and come back home... the package is going to be there and if it's not, someone will have to pay for it," DeSantis said.

Florida 812.014 defines theft as an act where a person knowingly obtains or uses the property of another to deny the other person access to their belongings or to wrongfully use the property to their own advantage. The severity of the charge will vary depending on the property stolen and the value of that property.

Close-up of Woman Stealing Jewelry as an Example of Retail Theft in Florida
Luckily, due to the large caseload, Miami prosecutors do not usually seek jail time for first-time offenders, as long as the alleged loss amount is not excessive. First-time offenders, with the assistance of an experienced Miami lawyer, can usually avail themselves of the pre-trial diversion program. Mind you, not every county in Florida has this program. Essentially, a person arrested for these types of offenses can enroll in the program. After six months, and with the conditions met as set forth by the state attorney's office, the case will result in a dismissal of the charges.

The experienced Miami criminal defense lawyers at DMT have been defending clients charged with theft and fraud charges for over twenty years. If you or someone you know has been arrested similar to the offenses discussed above, Donet, McMillan and Trontz, PA can assist you. Give us a call (305) 444-0030. We will zealously represent your interests and obtain the best result possible.
Categories: Theft Crimes
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