Florida Theft Crimes: It’s All About Intent

Intent is the main way to defend a theft case. Whether it’s the petit crime of shoplifting or the felony of embezzlement, the prosecution must prove that the theft was intentional. In other words, the state must prove your state of mind.

Did you intend to steal?

Just because a person accused of shoplifting walks out of a Wal-Mart or a department store with unpaid merchandise does not necessarily mean that he or she was stealing.

Just because there is a discrepancy between an employer’s accounting records and the employer’s bank account to which an employee could permissibly access doesn’t mean that he or she stole money from the employer.


In shoplifting cases, the accused shopper may have simply forgotten to pay. Just ask Jameis Winston. He walked out of a Publix grocery store without paying for crab legs. He told authorities that he made a mistake.

Without evidence of intent to the contrary, the police issued a civil infraction against him requiring him to perform community service and pay a small fine.

Employment Embezzlement

Many employers are not day-to-day supervisors, so oftentimes they blame a fired or resigned employee who had access to business funds for theft when bookkeeping records don’t equate to the amount in business bank account.

The employee could have actually followed established bookkeeping methods with which the absentee supervisor was not familiar. In other cases, the employee could have been guilty at most of sloppy bookkeeping, whereas the employer is guilty of lack of oversight of the bookkeeping methods.

Retain Experienced Tampa Theft Criminal Defense Lawyer

There are innocent explanations for alleged theft. It’s important that persons charged with theft retain an experienced criminal defense attorney who can persuasively convey those explanations to the prosecution and help get those theft charges dismissed.

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