Petit Theft in Florida
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We are your Petit Theft Criminal Defense Lawyers in Florida
In Florida, petit theft occurs when a person steals or endeavors to steal property with a value of less than $300. Petit theft is a specific intent crime meaning that the state must show that the defendants actions were taken with the mental purpose to steal. Whether the acts by design were carried out to steal is a matter for the jury to decide.
Proving Petit Theft Charges in Florida
To prove the crime of petit theft at trial the prosecution must establish the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- Defendant knowingly and unlawfully obtained or used property of the victim;
- Defendant did so with the intent to permanently or temporarily:
- Deprive the victim of his right to the property; or
- Appropriate the victim’s property to the defendant’s own use or to the use of any person not entitled to it.
Penalties for Petit Theft
Petit theft is a second degree misdemeanor that carries a penalty of up to sixty (60) days in jail. A second offense may be charged as a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one (1) year in jail and results in loss of driving privileges. A court may suspend a persons drivers license for a period of six (6) months when the defendant is found guilty of misdemeanor petit theft. The court must order the suspension of driving privileges for a period of one (1) year when a defendant is adjudicated guilty of a second offense.
Petit theft is a “crime of dishonesty” that may permanently bar a person from employment, professional licenses, and acceptance into colleges.
No Attempted Theft in Florida “Attempting or Endeavoring to Steal”
A person commits theft if he knowingly obtains, uses, or endeavors to obtain or use the property of another with the appropriate criminal intent.
Florida appellate courts have held that the crime of attempted theft does not exist because the legislature included mere attempt to commit theft within the crime of theft.
Proof Used at Trial
The prosecution will use an arsenal of tools to prove a theft case. These include: testimony of loss prevention officers, video surveillance, statements and admissions of the accused, testimony of other customers, other witnesses, receipts, other business records, testimony of co-defendants, and exhibits or photographs of the items taken.
Petit Theft Defenses
Your Florida petit theft lawyer may rely on quite a number of defenses to petit theft. Common defenses are:
- Mistaken identity;
- Mistaken or false accusation;
- Identity dispute such as a result of a poor quality video creating a factual dispute about a suspect’s identity;
- False accusations by loss prevention officers;
- Customer mistakenly leaving the store (negating specific intent);
- Customer forgetting about items placed in a bag or stroller (negating specific intent);
- Items not found in the possession of the accused;
- Exiting the store for purposes other than to steal (i.e. to retrieve a wallet or purse in order to pay);
- Taking items for purposes other than to steal;
- Abandonment, withdrawal, or renunciation.
Pretrial Intervention for Petit Theft
A theft charge is a serious matter and not every case will have a viable defense.
Early Negotiation is Critical in a Possession of Weapon Defense in Florida
Early contact in the criminal process communicates competence, resolve, and establishes a rapport that may be needed during future negotiations.
Call us even before you are charged if possible. We may be able to avoid charges being filed.
We will make early contact with the prosecutor to present factual defenses, legal issues, and mitigating circumstances that may have a dramatic impact on the State’s decision to move forward against you.
We also happen to be Florida criminal law attorneys.
We are Miami Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach criminal defense lawyers.
Our Florida criminal lawyers represent clients charged with petit theft in Broward County, Miami Dade County, and Palm Beach County.
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We handle criminal law cases and petit theft defense cases Florida.
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