Florida Petit Theft
In Florida, to convict an accused of Petit Theft, the prosecutor must prove:
- The accused obtained or used (or tried to obtain or use) the property of another; and;
- The accused had the intent to, either permanently or temporarily:
- Deprive the victim of the property, or
- Take the victim’s property for his own use or the use of another.
Maximum Penalties for Petit Theft in Florida
If the value of the property was less than $100.00, then the Petit Theft is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of:
60 days in jail
6 months of probation
If the value of the property was $100.00 or more but less than $300.00, then the Petit Theft is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of:
One year of imprisonment
A $1,000.00 fine
12 months of probation
Suspension of Driver’s License
Florida Law states that if a person is adjudicated guilty of a first time Petit Theft, the judge may suspend the person’s driver’s license for up to 6 months. A second or subsequent suspension of a driver license for a petit theft conviction must be for 1 year.
Under Florida Law, a person commits a theft if he obtains or uses (or tries to obtain or use), the property of another with criminal intent.
Therefore, it is not a defense to a theft charge that the theft failed. For example, if the accused tried to commit a theft at a store but for some reason, he was unsuccessful, under Florida Law he is still guilty of theft.
Under Florida Law, the prosecutor does not have to prove that the accused took the property with the intent to keep it permanently. A theft is committed even if the accused only intended to keep the property temporarily. For example, in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, a valet driver from a parking lot decides to borrow someone’s Ferrari for a joy ride around Chicago. Under Florida Law, even though the valet driver intended to return the Ferrari to its owner, he’s still guilty of a theft.
Possible Defenses to a Theft Charge
Lack of Intent
To convict someone of theft, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had the intent to deprive the victim of property or take property for his own use or the use of another.
However, sometimes this is very difficult to do. For example, Attorney Hardy once represented a man that was arrested at Lowe’s for theft. The man had gone to the self-checkout line and neglected to scan all the items he placed in his bag. However, it was unclear whether or not his failure to scan all the items had been on accident or on purpose. The State dropped the case because it could not prove the man’s criminal intent.
Overzealous Loss Prevention Employees
Sometimes, loss prevention employees misinterpret perfectly innocent behavior for theft. A Defense Attorney can expose these errors and attack false allegations.
Are You Looking for the best Petit Theft lawyer in Tampa Florida? Contact Attorney David C. Hardy.
Tampa Attorney David C. Hardy is a former prosecutor that now represents persons accused of Petit Theft. He is Board Certified by the Florida Bar and the National Board of Trial Advocacy as an Expert in Criminal Trial Law. As a prosecutor and defense attorney, he has extensive experience handling Petit Theft cases.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for Petit Theft in Hillsborough County Florida, Pinellas County Florida, or Pasco County Florida, Attorney David C. Hardy has the knowledge, skills, and experience to guide you through this process and obtain the best possible results.