Petit Theft in Florida
Being accused of theft and being convicted of the crime are two different scenarios. Accusation can be embarrassing and inconvenient, but conviction can change your life, even when the value of the stolen item is minimal. In Florida, you can be accused of petit theft from a person or business for stealing property of $300 in value or less, with serious consequences.
What Is Petit Theft?
As the name suggests, petit theft means small theft, an item or items valuing less than $300 – stealing more than $300 in value is felony grand theft. Often petit theft is the same as shoplifting but does not need to occur at a business. Two factors must be proven to convict someone of petit theft in Florida, which are outlined in Section 812.014, Florida Statutes:
- The person willingly, unlawfully and knowingly took property belonging to someone else
- The person took the property for their own gain or to deprive the owner of its use
These two components seem simple – either someone stole an item, or they did not, but there are often circumstances that can offer a good defense. Pleading guilty or not fighting a charge of petit theft can not only result in fines and a scar on your permanent record, you could spend time in jail. Definitions and penalties for petit theft in Florida include:
- First degree petit theft. Items stolen valued at over $100 and less than $300 is first degree petit theft. Penalties of up to $1000 in fines and a year in jail.
- Second degree petit theft. Items stolen valued at less than $100 is second degree petit theft. Penalties of up to $500 in fines and 60 days in jail.
Considering the steep consequences for even a small theft, it is worth looking at options for fighting petit theft if you are charged.
Petit Theft Defenses
A good defense attorney will look at all angles to determine the best defense for their client. Did the accused have the item on their person when arrested, or were they only identified through video surveillance or eyewitnesses? Maybe the defendant didn’t realize they had taken the item outside the store. Did someone else put the item on the defendant? The defendant may have needed to leave the premises temporarily for an emergency but intended to buy or return the item. There are many possible explanations that could be used in a defense, depending on the situation.
Florida Petit Theft Attorneys
If you are charged with petit theft in the Tampa Bay area, contact our experienced legal team at Tison Law Group. We want to hear your side of the story and advise you on your best options for getting the charges reduced or dismissed. Call our office to schedule a consultation.