Retail theft is not uncommon. As a Jacksonville criminal lawyer, I have defended many people for retail petit theft in Jacksonville and the surrounding towns. In some cases, the retail theft is charged as Florida grand theft due to the value of the property stolen. Stores know that retail theft occurs often, so they prepare for it with surveillance cameras and loss prevention employees. This does not mean that they take it lightly. Most stores will prosecute for shoplifting. They will call the police if a person is caught stealing. You could be arrested. The police officer may issue a notice to appear instead. A notice to appear looks like a basic Jacksonville traffic ticket, but it will show up on your Florida criminal record like an arrest.
The stereotypical scenario for a retail theft occurs when someone places an item in a bag, purse, or pocket and tries to leave the store with it. When the person is caught, he or she is charge with theft in Jacksonville FL. What if the person snatches an item off the cashier’s counter or from the cashier and runs out of the door? Is this retail theft or something more? It depends.
That will be the question in a robbery by sudden snatching case. Last Sunday, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office began investigating a robbery that occurred at a Hess gas station. First Coast News reported:
“According to a JSO news release, the incident occurred at 3712 Phillips Highway at 2:30 p.m. Aaron Hollister allegedly asked for two cartons of Newport 100 cigarettes. The card provided to the cashier did not work, that is when the Hollister allegedly took $115 worth of cigarettes from the cashier and ran from the business.”
Hollister was arrested for a felony. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office arrested him for robbery by sudden snatching. He was not armed with a weapon. He will go before a judge at the Duval County Jail in order for a bond to be set. The judge will likely set a higher bail amount due to Hollister’s criminal record. First Coast News further stated that his criminal history in Duval County includes Jacksonville possession of a controlled substance charges. He also has other drug arrests for Jacksonville possession of drug paraphernalia and cocaine. He has prior armed robbery, assault, and car jacking charges. He has multiple theft charges which include both grand and petit theft. He also has a past felony violation of probation in Jacksonville. This will certainly hurt his chance of a bond reduction and a negotiated sentence.
Why was Hollister charged with robbery instead of petit theft? He only stole cigarettes, right? This is exactly what I thought when I just skimmed through the news article. I missed one line. “The release says the cashier complained of pain to her fingers.” I thought that he removed the cigarettes from the counter and ran. The fact that the cashier’s fingers hurt tell me that he must have tried to take them from her hands. That is robbery.
The Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer that receives this case will want to watch the video surveillance closely. If Hollister did not take the cigarettes from the cashier’s hands, he may have been overcharged.