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Petit Theft Florida

Theft crimes in the state of Florida are considered to be “crimes of dishonesty”. When someone seizes or uses somebody else’s property, with criminal intent, they are committing theft. If the property that was taken or used is valued between $100 and $300, the individual has committed petit theft. In Florida, petit theft is typically considered a misdemeanor crime, but may also be charged as a felony crime, depending on a person’s criminal history. Consequences of being convicted guilty of petit theft can include jail, restitution, probation, community service or even prison time. In a lot of situations, petit theft charges arise from shoplifting incidents, but the incident does not have to happen at a store. 

Prosecutors have the responsibility of proving, beyond a reasonable doubt that someone who has been accused of petit theft purposefully sought to deprive the rightful property owners of their rights to that which was taken or used. There are defenses that can be used in petit theft cases, but with everchanging statutes and procedures, it is always in your best interest to hire an attorney who will wholeheartedly defend you. Since the State is going to work hard to prove their case, it is beneficial to have a defense attorney who will be working hard to prove your innocence and make sure you do not end up getting the short end of the stick once your case has concluded.

Petit Theft Penalties

If you are facing petit theft charges, it is most likely that you are facing penalties for a first- or second-degree misdemeanor. What this means is that if you are found guilty, you could be required to pay fines, serve time in jail, pay restitution, be required to complete probation or be ordered to serve community service. Some more serious consequences could include being sentenced to serve up to a year in prison and driver’s license suspension. However, if you have previously been convicted of petit theft two or more times, you could be facing a charge of felony petit theft. If this is the case, you could be looking at serving up to five (5) years in prison.

Second-Degree Petit Theft

  • A theft in which the property taken:
    • Has value of at least $100
  • Possible penalties can include:
    • Fines as high as $500 
    • Up to sixty days in jail
    • Six-month probation sentence

First-Degree Petit Theft

  • A theft in which the property taken is:
    • Valued between $100 and $300
  • Possible penalties can include:
    • Fines as high as $1,000 
    • Up to one year in jail
    • One-year probation sentence

Felony Petit Theft

  • A theft in which the property taken is:
    • Valued between $100 and $300
    • Allegedly taken by an individual with two or more existing petit theft convictions on their criminal record
  • Possible penalties can include:
    • Fines as high as $5,000 
    • Up to five years in prison

Possible Defenses for Petit Theft

In order to prove your guilt, it is mandatory for the State to prove that you had intent to commit theft.  There are a number of defenses when it comes to petit theft charges. A seasoned, competent criminal defense attorney can properly analyze all aspects of your case and determine which defenses could be presented. 

  • Wrong Place, Wrong Time
    • Simply because you were present when a petit theft crime was committed, does not implicate you as an accomplice
  • Worthless Property
    • If the property taken was valueless at the time of the incident, you cannot be guilty of a petit theft, since Florida law does not place any monetary value on junk or garbage 
  • Voluntary Abandonment
    • If you chose not to follow through with the act of petit crime, and relayed this change in plans to any and all accomplices, with ample time to cease acting on the original plan, you cannot be found guilty
  • Equal Ownership Rights
    • You are the co-owner of a property with another person
  • Good Faith Possession 
    • You truly believed, at the time of taking the property in question, that you had a legal right to do so
  • Being Set Up
    • A co-defendant, or other party, coerced you into unknowingly committing the offense
  • Honest Mistake
    • You simply forgot you still needed to pay for items, before leaving a store
    • You leave a store for purposes unrelated to theft, but still unknowingly have unpurchased merchandise in your possession
    • Prices on items were altered before you entered the store and purchased them
  • Discrepancies in Investigation and/or Arrest
    • Loss prevention staff or arresting officer failed to follow proper procedures
    • Witnesses present mistaken (whether intentional or unintentional) information about their recollection of the incident
  • Incomplete, Incorrect or Weak Evidence
    • Evidence does not sufficiently prove you had intent to commit a crime
  • Mistaken Identity
    • Witnesses incorrectly identify you as the perpetrator 
    • Low-quality cameras and videos distort evidence so strongly, that it is impossible to accurately identify the suspect 

Why Hire a Lawyer?

Even if you find yourself facing a misdemeanor petit theft charge and think it will just be a slap on the wrist, this is not always going to be the case. Petit theft charges are highly defendable. However, despite that fact, if you put yourself up against prosecutors, judges and witnesses, you take a number of risks. First of all, these people all have experience in dealing with these types of cases. 

During the process, you could find yourself completely lost in a jumble of legal jargon, with no way to properly defend yourself. Because of this, you could end up with a deal that you neither understand nor find it satisfactory. Further, if you find yourself being charged with felony petit theft, the potential consequences you could face if you are found guilty can be extremely damaging to your future endeavors. Having a good lawyer can make a world of difference in how your case plays out an, ultimately, ends up. 

Why Choose Parikh Law?

It can be difficult to choose a lawyer when you are dealing with legal troubles. With intricate websites, grandiose promises and suspiciously low prices, it can be tough to figure out who will truly do the best they can to defend you. Attorney Rahul Parikh has a tried and true background as a criminal defense attorney, but he also has experience working for the Ninth Circuit Office of the State Attorney. This has given him knowledge of both sides of the coin. He also established rapport with both attorneys from the State and criminal court judges during his time at the Office of the State Attorney. 

Today, he continues to grow his knowledge and maintain the professional relationships he has built over the years. Above all else, Attorney Parikh is fiercely dedicated to defending his clients as if they were his own family. He and his staff believe in helping clients through difficult times with the highest respect, kindness and professionalism. Parikh Law, P.A. offers free consultations, in which Attorney Parikh will truly listen to what you have to say about your case and give you real, honest feedback. To schedule a consultation today for your petit theft case, contact Parikh Law, P.A., the firm that is dedicated to your defense.