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Does “Petit Theft” Mean “Petit” Consequences Under Florida Law?

When people hear the phrase “petit theft”, they may mistakenly believe this means they will only face minimal consequences if they are found guilty of the crime.  It is important to understand the potential penalties a person may face if they are charged with petit theft.

What is Petit Theft?

Under Florida law (specifically Fla. Stat. Ann. § 812.014), a person can be convicted of theft if “he or she knowingly obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or to use, the property of another with the intent to, either temporarily or permanently:

  1. Deprive the other person of a right to the property or benefit from the property; or
  2. Appropriate the property to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to the use of the property.”

Florida Statutes § 812.014(2)(e) and § 812.014(3)(a) further separate petit theft into first and second degree misdemeanors. Classification of a crime as a first or second degree misdemeanor depends on the value of the property that was allegedly taken by a defendant.

Petit Theft of the First Degree

If a court finds the value of the property that was allegedly taken was worth between $100 and $299.99, you will be charged with first degree petit theft. If you are ultimately convicted, you could be sentenced to any of the following penalties pursuant to :

  1. Driver’s license suspension of six months for the first conviction, and one year for each conviction after that.
  2. Restitution to the store (paying the store back for the item you are found to have stolen)
  3. Up to one year in jail;
  4. Up to one year of supervised probation or community control; or
  5. Up to a $1,000 maximum fine

Petit Theft of the Second Degree

If a court finds the value of the property that was allegedly taken was worth less than $100, you will then be charged with second degree petit theft and could be sentenced to:

  1. Driver’s license suspension of six months for the first conviction, and one year for each conviction after that.
  2. Restitution to the store (paying the store back for the item you are found to have stolen)
  3. Up to 60 days in jail;
  4. Up to six months of supervised probation or community control; or
  5. Up to a $500maximum fine.

Beyond these penalties, a theft conviction may also negatively impact your ability to obtain future employment and professional licensing, diminish your credibility, and open you to more serious consequences if you are charged with another theft conviction in the future.

Will My Previous Convictions Affect The Penalties I May Face?

Yes. If you have been convicted of theft two or more times prior to your current conviction, you may be convicted of felony petit theft. Specifically, Florida statute § 812.014(3)(c) provides, “a person who commits petit theft and who has previously been convicted two or more times of any theft commits a felony of the third degree.” This means you could face third degree felony penalties including fines of up to $5,000 and up to five years in prison.

Contact An Experienced Winter Park, Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer Today!

If you have been arrested or charged with petit theft in Winter Park, Florida, you need to hire an experienced, local criminal defense attorney, like the criminal defense lawyers of Cotter & Zelman, P.A.  Our knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers can help you evaluate the merits of your defense and help ensure your rights are protected throughout the litigation of your claim.  Contact us today for a free initial consultation.

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