Criminal Defense Attorney For Petit Theft Charges
Being subject to criminal charges can have long-lasting repercussions on a person’s livelihood — no matter how serious the case may be. For instance, even minor misdemeanors, such as petit theft cases, can result in a license suspension, a criminal record, or worse yet, incarceration. Unfortunately, the relatively lesser nature of this type of misdemeanor makes them easy to underestimate. Penalties for petit theft cases may be, on average, laxer, but restrictive nonetheless. What’s worse, without proper legal representation and counsel, those accused might be more susceptible to an unfair ruling that could change their lives forever.
If you or a loved one are involved in a petit theft case, contact our criminal defense attorney right away to represent you. Adam Stout will use his wealth of experience inside and outside the courtroom to defend your rights at every step of the criminal justice system. Don’t wait any longer — contact our Gainesville law firm today to request a free consultation.
Florida Petit Theft Law
Florida statue §812.014 defines theft as the act or intent to (1) unlawfully appropriate another person’s property, and (2) deprive another person of a right to their property. Please note that, under this definition, the accused does not need to have succeeded in stealing property for the case to be considered petit theft. In most cases, criminal intent is sufficient.
Petit theft, commonly referred to as petty theft, is the lowest level of theft offenses. It occurs when the property under question is valued at less than $300. Cases are further divided into second and first-degree petit theft depending on the property’s value.
If the property under question is valued at less than $100, the case is considered to be petit theft of the second degree. Accordingly, this type of crime is treated as a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable with up to 60 days in prison and a fine of up to $500.
If the property under question is valued greater than $100 but less than $300, the case is considered to be petit theft of the first degree. Accordingly, this type of crime is treated as a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable with up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
Offenders with past theft convictions may face harsher penalties than those outlined above. For example, those who have previously been convicted for theft more than twice may have their petit theft case bumped to a felony of the third degree, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Speak to a petty theft lawyer for more information on prior convictions and theft charges.
License Suspension & Civil Liability
In addition to imprisonment and fines, anyone convicted of theft in Florida may have their license suspended or be held civilly liable to the theft victim for monetary damages, attorneys’ fees, and court costs.
How We Can Help
Having an experienced petty theft lawyer by your side is critical to avoid or minimize the harsh consequences of a theft charge — even if it’s just a misdemeanor. Our attorney, Adam Stout, can help determine what defenses may be applicable in your case, and advise you on the best course of action to avoid a permanent record. In the event of a trial, he can represent you in court, using bold litigation and defense strategies, while always making sure your rights are protected every step of the way.
The following includes some examples of defenses commonly used in petit theft cases.
- Equal ownership: A property co-owner can not be convicted of petit theft unless the plaintiff co-owner has a superior legal interest in the property.
- Good faith possession: A person who takes possession of property with a good faith belief lacks the requisite criminal intent that defines petit theft.
- Mere presence: Presence at the crime scene or knowledge that a crime is being committed is insufficient to establish participation in petit theft.
- Valueless property: Items without market value, such as trash on the side of the road, do not constitute property and thus are impossible to be stolen per Florida’s theft definition.
- Voluntary abandonment: If the defendant completely and voluntarily relinquished their attempt to commit the petit theft, they also renounced the requisite criminal intent.