Florida Criminal Law

Florida Criminal Law And Shoplifting

To many, shoplifting is seen as a seemingly insignificant criminal offense, one committed by little children who have sticky fingers. This is a wrong idea to have — shoplifting is taken very seriously under Florida criminal law and a shoplifting charge can result in severe civil and even criminal penalties. An experienced Miami criminal defense attorney can fight for the best possible outcome for those facing shoplifting charges.

Shoplifting According to Florida Criminal Law


According to Florida criminal law, shoplifting is referred to as retail theft, which is is committed when a person “knowingly obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or to use, the property of another with intent to, either temporarily or permanently:

  1. Deprive the other person of right to the property or a benefit from the property
  2. Appropriate the property to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to the use of the property”

Shoplifting is not only committed when someone takes possession of the property of a merchant without paying. The term also encompasses:

  • altering labels or price tags on merchandise
  • transferring merchandise from one container to another
  • taking away shopping carts

Depending on the value of the stolen property, the offender’s theft record, and the circumstances surrounding the criminal act, retail theft can either be classified as petit theft or grand theft — leading to misdemeanor or felony charges respectively.

Petit Theft or Grand Theft Criminal Penalties


Stolen Property Value Classification Charge Penalty
Less than $100 Second Degree Petit Theft Second Degree Misdemeanor Prison sentence of up to 60 days

Fines up to $500

$100 or more; less than $300 First Degree Petit Theft First Degree Misdemeanor Prison sentence of up to 1 year

Fines up to $1,000

$300 or more; less than $20,000 Third Degree Grand Theft Third Degree Felony Prison sentence of up to 5 years

Fines up to $5,000

$20,000 or more; less than $100,000 Second Degree Grand Theft Second Degree Felony Prison sentence of up to 15 years

Fines up to $10,000

$100,000 or more; more than $1,000 in property damage caused during the theft First Degree Grand Theft First Degree Felony Prison sentence of up to 30 years

Fines up to $10,000

Charges can be bumped up if the offender has previous theft convictions on their criminal record or if the crime was committed using physical assault, threatened or realized.

In Florida, those charged with misdemeanor shoplifting, especially first time offenders, are sometimes given the opportunity to avoid jail time and keep theft convictions off their record by entering a pre-trial intervention program which often includes paying fees and attending rehabilitation counseling.

Civil Penalties


Shoplifting can also result in civil liability. Merchants who fall victim to retail theft can sue adults, emancipated minors, and the parents or legal guardians of unemancipated minors in civil court. First, merchants must make a written demand for payment of the stolen retail damages. If the shoplifter responds and complies with the demand within 30 days, then the merchant must provide a written release from civil liability.

However, if the written demand goes unanswered and the merchant’s lawsuit goes forward, the offender may be liable for:

  • a minimum of $200 in damages
  • three times the actual damages sustained by the merchant
  • reimbursement of merchant’s attorney’s fees and court costs

Someone convicted of any misdemeanor theft may have their driver’s license suspended. Under Florida criminal law, drivers license suspension of six months to one year is required for second and first degree petit theft charges.

Shoplifting is clearly not considered a minor offense under Florida criminal law. A retail theft conviction and the resulting civil and criminal penalties are severe and can have far-reaching consequences on one’s life and financial, educational, or professional future.

If you or a loved one is facing a shoplifting charge, enlist the expertise of a Miami criminal defense attorney. Our attorneys are skilled at defending our clients’ rights in court and working towards achieving the best possible outcomes.

Call Pimentel & Castillo today for a free consultation.

Is Teen Sexting a Crime in Florida?

Is Teen Sexting a Crime in Florida?

The answer is yes, sexting between two minors is considered a crime in Florida. In 2011, the Florida legislature passed a law that specifically pertained to teen sexting. Children and teenagers under the age of 18 should have some understanding of this law and the penalties for violating it.

Prior to this law, minors caught sexting would be charged according to more severe Florida child pornography laws. While this is no longer the case, the consequences for minors who violate the current law can still be harsh with long-lasting effects for the offender. If a you are a parent or guardian of a minor cited for a sexting violation, seeking the legal counsel of an experienced Miami juvenile defense attorney is recommended.

What is Sexting and Teen Sexting?

Sexting is defined as people sharing nude or sexually explicit messages, typically photos or videos, through the use of electronic communication channels and devices such cell phones, the Internet, social media, and so on. Teen sexting occurs when the above behavior happens between two minors and the messages in question depict minors.

Under Florida sexting law, sexting between two consenting adults is not a criminal activity. However, teen sexting is considered a criminal offense. Minors commit the crime of sexting when they knowingly distribute, receive, possess, or create a nude or sexually explicit image or video of another minor.

If a minor receives an image or video depicting a minor in situations of nudity or sexual conduct, but they (i) did not solicit the image, (ii) did not distribute the image to another party, and (iii) took steps to report the image to a parent, guardian, school official, or law enforcement official, they are unlikely to be charged with violating the Florida sexting law.

What are the Penalties of Teen Sexting?

The consequences minors may face because of sexting vary in severity and depend on the specific circumstances of each case. Generally, punishments get harsher the more offenses a minor is charged with. Any images or videos transmitted or received within a 24 hour period are counted as one offense.

      • First Offense — Minor charged with non-criminal violation, could face a $60 fine, 8 hours of community service, and/or mandatory classes on the dangers of sexting.
      • Second Offense — Minor charged with first degree misdemeanor, could be faced with steeper fines, probation, and/or placement in a juvenile detention center.
      • Third Offense — Minor charged with third degree felony, could face a prison sentence of up to 15 years and may be required to register as a sex offender.

To learn more about the Florida sexting law and Florida child pornography laws as they pertain to juvenile defendants, speak with a seasoned Miami juvenile defense attorney. The attorneys at Pimentel & Castillo are experienced at defending juveniles from criminal charges, including sexting violations. If you are a parent or guardian of a minor that is facing teen sexting charges, call us today for a free consultation.

Medical Marijuana in Florida is Legally Available

Medical Marijuana in Florida is Legally Available

On Election Day, Floridians overwhelmingly voted in favor of Amendment 2 which legalized access to medical marijuana for people with certain conditions. The constitutional amendment was put into effect on January 2017. Now, certain people can obtain medical marijuana in Florida, but the requirements are strict and the process is not simple. People interested in legally purchasing marijuana should consult with a Miami criminal defense attorney knowledgable with Florida marijuana laws which are briefly explained below.

Qualifying for Medical Marijuana in Florida

Under Amendment 2, patients can legally possess and use medical marijuana to treat one of the following “debilitating medical conditions.”

      • cancer
      • epilepsy
      • glaucoma
      • positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
      • acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
      • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
      • amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
      • Crohn’s disease
      • Parkinson’s disease
      • multiple sclerosis (MS)
      • other debilitating medical conditions similar to those above and that a qualified physician recommends being treated with medical marijuana

There are other requirements patients must fulfill to be eligible for treatment using medical marijuana in Florida, including the following.

      • Must be a Florida resident.
      • Diagnosed by their qualified ordering physician with a qualifying condition.
      • Treated by said physician for at least 3 months immediately prior to an order of medical marijuana being placed.
      • Registered with the Compassionate Use Registry by the ordering physician.
      • Must have valid Compassionate Use Registry identification card.
      • If under 18, must have an additional recommendation from a second physician.
      • Tried other treatments without success.
      • Risk of using marijuana was determined to be reasonable by the ordering physician.

It is the responsibility of a qualified physician authorized to order marijuana (either low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis) to follow Florida marijuana laws, diagnose patients properly, and decide whether to recommend medical marijuana as the most suitable treatment.

Ordering physicians can order up to a 45-day supply of medical marijuana and one cannabis delivery device for their qualifying patients. With a valid Compassionate Use Registry identification card (which needs to be renewed annually), a patient or their legal representative can then contact a licensed dispensing organization to have the order filled.

Once the patient has the medical marijuana, they must follow certain rules and restrictions concerning use, including where it can be used or administered.

If you are considering legally obtaining medical marijuana to treat your debilitating ailments, consult with a Miami criminal defense attorney to become more familiar with Florida marijuana laws. A legal professional can help you avoid to criminal liability and strongly defend your rights in the event that you are charged with a drug offense.

Call Pimentel & Castillo to request a free consultation with an experienced Miami criminal defense attorney today.

What the Law Says About Boating & Drinking

What the Law Says About Boating & Drinking

South Florida is one of the best locations to take a boat out on the water, and because of that, it is all the more important that Floridians be knowledgeable about the state’s laws related to boating. Considering boats are often a venue in which people consume alcoholic beverages, being informed about the laws concerning boating while intoxicated is of the utmost importance.

What happens when a boater is pulled over?

First and foremost, it is important to understand that the police force that oversees the waters is different from the one that patrols the land. These officers abide by different rules, but should not be taken any less seriously. When an officer signals for a boater to stop, the boater is required to do so. They may ask that the engine simply be cut or an anchor be dropped. Once stopped, the officer will board the boat, at which point those on board will need to keep their hands visible, provide all necessary documentation, permit to a safety inspection, and obey the officer’s commands. The vessel will be searched if given probable cause to.

If there has been drinking, the officer may request that the captain take a breathalyzer test. While this request can be denied, doing so may result in a fine of $500 for the operator, or even a criminal misdemeanor if the boater has refused in the past. If the aforementioned fine is not paid, the vessel may later be taken by the Coast Guard. Assuming the boater does take the breathalyzer and is determined to be intoxicated (above 0.8% in Florida), legal actions will be taken.

BUI in Florida

A charge for boating while intoxicated (commonly referred to as a BUI) will require the help of a proven Miami criminal defense attorney. Otherwise, the boater is likely to face unfavorable judgments, ranging from a $1,000 fine and up to 6 months in jail for a first-time conviction and a third-degree felony for a fourth offense. While a first offense will not typically affect one’s driving privileges, it is possible that this information may be shared with the authorities responsible for suspending drivers licenses, who may elect to do just that. In order to protect one’s rights and secure the most favorable outcome in this situation, the guidance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer will be essential.

Are you facing a BUI charge? Contact a Miami criminal defense attorney experienced in handling cases concerning BUI in Florida. Our lawyers are always available to answer any questions you may have.