In Florida, the severity of theft charges may vary widely based on the value of the property involved and the criminal record of the defendant. Petit theft offenses cover property with low monetary value, frequently arising out of shoplifting accusations. Retaining skilled defense representation may help you avoid a needlessly harsh outcome in a petit theft case. At Blake & Dorsten, P.A., our St. Petersburg theft crime lawyers can identify potential weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and fight to get you a favorable outcome.Florida Petit Theft Offenses
In Florida, theft is generally defined as knowingly obtaining or using, or attempting to obtain or use, the property of another with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive the owner of the property. The seriousness of the crime depends on a number of factors, including the circumstances of the alleged theft, the criminal record of the defendant, the value of the property, and other elements. Petit theft involves property worth less than $300, while grand theft encompasses property valued at between $300 and $20,000. In most cases, petit theft is a misdemeanor offense, although there are exceptions.
If the allegedly stolen property’s value is less than $100, the defendant can be charged with Petit Theft of the Second Degree, which is a second degree misdemeanor offense. The penalties for a conviction may include up to six months in jail, six months of probation, and/or a maximum fine of $500. In addition, the court may order the suspension of a defendant’s driver license for a period of six months.
Theft of property with a monetary value of $100 or more, but less than $300, is generally considered a first degree misdemeanor. Petit Theft of the First Degree may be charged in cases involving property with a lower value, however, if the defendant has a prior theft conviction. A conviction may be punishable by a jail sentence of up to one year, probation, a fine of $1,000, a suspended driver license for six or more months, and/or other penalties.
In some circumstances, petit theft may be elevated from a misdemeanor to a felony offense, and may carry greater penalties for a conviction. Defendants with multiple prior convictions for theft offenses, for example, may be charged with a third degree felony offense rather than a misdemeanor. In addition, property taken from the inside of a home or a dwelling or its curtilage is a felony crime even if the value of the allegedly stolen property is under $300. The theft of certain items of property may also allow the prosecution to bring a more serious charge against the defendant. A stolen firearm, fire extinguisher, stop sign, or any of the other items specified by statute may result in a felony charge, regardless of property value. The theft of any amount of a controlled substance, such as illegal drugs or certain prescription medications, is not only a felony offense in most cases, but may also lead to additional charges for drug possession or other drug crimes.Defenses in a Petit Theft Case
Mounting an effective defense against a petit theft charge requires knowledge of Florida criminal law and the details of the case. Depending on the evidence, the defense may argue that the property was abandoned or thrown away by the owner, or that the property did not have any value, or that the defendant partially owned the property. Other defenses may be mistaken identity, lack of evidence to prove the crime was committed, or lack of intent to deprive the owner of the property. Developing a defense strategy with a theft crimes attorney may be beneficial in having the charges reduced or dismissed.Hire a St. Petersburg Defense Lawyer to Fight Petit Theft Charges
At Blake & Dorsten, P.A., our skilled theft crimes attorneys work tirelessly to protect the rights of our clients in and around St. Petersburg. We can represent defendants in federal and Florida state courtrooms located in Tampa Bay, Clearwater, and throughout Pinellas County. If you have been accused of petit theft, shoplifting, or another crime, contact our office at (727) 286-6141 or online and request a free consultation with one of our dedicated lawyers today.