Florida theft crimes can carry serious penalties, despite the value of the stolen goods. For people charged with petit theft or shoplifting, defending against criminal allegations after arrest may help to avoid a conviction. At Ellis and Bryant, our Jacksonville theft crime lawyers work diligently on behalf of our clients to minimize the consequences of criminal charges. If you have been arrested for petit theft or any other criminal offense, we can help you protect your rights and defend against prosecution.Petit Theft Crimes in Florida
A theft is committed when a person knowingly uses or obtains, or tries to use or obtain, another person’s property with the purpose of either permanently or temporarily depriving the owner of it, or appropriating it for their own use or the use of others not entitled to use it. In Florida, an unsuccessful or thwarted attempt to steal may nevertheless constitute a theft crime if the perpetrator possessed the requisite intent. Theft is broken down into criminal offenses based on specific factors and circumstances, such as the value of the stolen property. Petit theft involves property with a value of less than $300.
The theft of property valued under $100 is a second degree misdemeanor for most first-time offenders. If you are convicted of Petit Theft of the Second Degree, the penalties may include a jail sentence for up to six months, six months of probation, a six-month driver license suspension, and/or a fine of up to $500. A defendant with any prior theft conviction, however, may be charged with a first degree misdemeanor offense, despite the small value of the property.
Stolen property worth $100 or more, but less than $300, is a first degree misdemeanor in most cases. A conviction may result in a one year jail sentence, probation, driver license suspension, and/or a maximum fine of $1,000. In some situations, petit theft may be elevated from a misdemeanor criminal offense to a felony charge in Florida. For example, stealing certain items may constitute a felony offense regardless of their value, such as stop signs, fire extinguishers, or controlled substances. In another example, a defendant with two or more prior convictions for any theft offense may be charged with a third degree felony for a petit theft.Avoiding a Petit Theft Conviction
A valid defense in a petit theft case may lead to a dismissal of the charge, or could lower the penalties. Lack of intent is one example of a defense that may apply in a petit theft case. For instance, if you believed that you had retrieved your own jacket from a coat rack, but mistakenly took a coat that belonged to someone else, you did not intend to deprive someone of their property. Abandonment is the complete and voluntary renunciation of a criminal purpose. If the circumstances show that the defendant abandoned or otherwise prevented the commission of a theft, a conviction may be avoided. The defense of abandonment typically comes up in petit theft cases based on allegations that the defendant attempted to steal. In some cases, the defendant is mistakenly identified as the perpetrator of a theft. If there is any reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime, the charges against them may be dismissed. These defenses to petit theft, as well as others, may be available depending on the specific facts of the case. A seasoned criminal defense attorney can help you determine an appropriate strategy for your case.Theft Crime Lawyers Serving the Jacksonville Area
At Ellis and Bryant, we strive to protect our clients’ rights and futures. Our Jacksonville defense attorneys have the skill to handle petit theft cases and many other criminal charges, such as drug trafficking and assault. We can represent people throughout Duval and Clay Counties, including Jacksonville Beach, Middleburg, Orange Park, and many other places. Call Ellis and Bryant at (904) 551-4120 or contact us online and request a free initial consultation.