Criminal Defense Law: Petit Theft in Florida

A criminal defense law firm in Fort Lauderdale may be able to help reduce or even eliminate your charges if you have been charged with petit theft. With the potential to face serious consequences, it’s important to seek immediate legal counsel.


What is Petit theft?

This type of theft involves anything with a value of less than $300. The crime may be considered either a first-degree or a second-degree misdemeanor.

In order to charge you, it must be proven that your intent was to deprive the victim of his or her right to property or that you were not entitled to use the property. Even if you “borrow” an item, if you do so without permission, this could be considered petit theft.

Petit theft of the first degree is property valued at less than $300 but more than $100. You may also be charged in the first degree if you have previously been convicted of theft. It is considered second-degree petit theft if the property’s value is less than $100.


Penalties for Petit Theft

First-degree petit theft could result in a year of probation, a year of jail time or a fine up to $1,000. One of these penalties or some combination of these penalties may be used. Second-degree petit theft could include six months of probation, six months in jail, a fine up to $500 or a combination of these penalties.

In addition, any charge of petit theft could result in the suspension of your driver’s license. A first time conviction could carry a suspension of six months, while a subsequent conviction may carry a suspension of one year.


Defenses in a Petit Theft Charge

A few defense tactics could be used when you are charged with a petit theft. One defense is that the allegations are simply false. Another is that you had equal ownership in the property.

You could also use the defense of “good faith possession.” This means that although you took the property, it was in good faith. In other words, you truly believed you had the right to it and your intent wasn’t to steal.

Finally, if you can prove the value assigned to the property isn’t legitimate, you can use this information in your defense. So if an item was valued at $200 but you can show it had no value, your charges may be dismissed.

Although this is not the most heinous crime, it could still affect your ability to drive if your driver’s license is suspended, which could then interfere with your ability to get to and from work or school.

An attorney from a criminal defense law firm in Fort Lauderdale could help reduce the charges or even have them dismissed. An attorney at Falk & Ross may be able to help. Call 877-663-5110 to talk to a lawyer.