Interviewer: Have you seen any cases of accidental shop lifting?
Randy Berman: There is no such thing as accidental shoplifting. There can be an accident in putting something in a bag and forgetting about it and then being charged with shoplifting. If you commit shoplifting, you are knowingly taking something without authority from a shop keeper. If you do it accidently, you are not shop lifting; that is a defense. Yes there are often times, the people will have a bag and instead of carrying the item that they intend to purchase, they will put it in a bag of other items and they will forget about that item. If we can convince the prosecutor prior to disposition or if it has to go to trial and convince the jury this was inadvertent and they believe it, then that person will be acquitted. You always look for the potential for there being an inadvertent act that was not intended to be theft.
Children May Grab an Item and Put it in the Basket or the Bag While the Parent is Unaware
Interviewer: Can it be the case where maybe a child or somebody put something in the basket, or had something with them and did not tell the parent?
Randy Berman: That or you see a lady with a stroller and a child and they grab an item and they put it in undercarriage of the stroller and forget that they put it there. Yes a child might grab something if it is a minor. Unless it is a teenager, the child is not going to get charged.
A Parent May be Potentially Accused of Shoplifting Because of their Child’s Mistake
Interviewer: Could the parent be confused for that individual and say well we found it in your bag that is the bottom line?
Randy Berman: Yes but they generally have video tape. Most of the bigger department stores do and it would show the child doing it. In a smaller convenience store type place it might not have the sophistication of the cameras and yes the parent might be confused with having secreted an item that the child did. Then the parent could potentially be accused of retail theft when they had no idea that it was happening.
The General Populace is Typically Unaware of Sophisticated Fraud Schemes
Interviewer: Are there any examples of theft that the general public isn’t really aware of? Is there something that you can think of that people aren’t generally aware of?
Randy Berman: Yes, sophisticated fraud schemes are the types of things that the normal citizen is not aware of. For example, I have handled real estate fraud cases where the schemers would have a property appraised much higher that it was worth and they had an appraiser that was in on the scheme. Maybe ten times as much, then they would be able to get a loan for way more than the property was worth. Once the loan proceeds are dispersed, these people would pocket the money from the loan and then would default on the mortgage payment.
There are many health care practitioners, who bill Medicare for all types of items that they don’t provide for patients. You hear about it occasionally but it is not something you normally think about, but that can run into millions until they’re caught. So it’s usually the sophisticated frauds that are the types of things that you don’t normally think about when you think about theft.
Theft By Deception Offenses are Referred to as Fraud in the Florida Statutes
Interviewer: When you talk about fraud I have heard of people refer that as theft by deception. In Florida is that what it is referred to?
Randy Berman: No. It’s known as fraud but theft by deception is a term that explains it, defines it so legal practitioners know what you are talking about when you use that phrase but it is called fraud in the statutes.