Petit Theft, or petty theft, is defined under the Florida Statute 812.014 as taking someone else’s property valued at less than $750.
Theft crimes are generally prosecuted based on how much money was stolen. The more value the item stolen has, the more serious the crime. We will discuss the crime of theft in the State of Florida, the defenses to theft and how it is penalized and prosecuted.
Defining Theft Per Florida Statutes
Theft is defined by Florida Statutes 812.014 as:
(1) A person commits theft if he or she knowingly obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or to use, the property of another with intent to, either temporarily or permanently:
(a) Deprive the other person of a right to the property or a benefit from the property.
(b) Appropriate the property to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to the use of the property.
Petit Theft Penalties
Petit theft is defined as any theft where the value of the items is $750 or less. A Petit theft can be classified under two different degrees depending on the value of the items alleged to have been taken. Petit Theft can be a First degree Misdemeanor or a Second Degree Misdemeanor. Petit theft is considered a second-degree misdemeanor if the items are valued at less than $100. It is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor if the items are valued between $100 and $750.
A first-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to one (1) year in county jail, one (1) year probation and $1,000 fine while a second-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to six (6) months in county jail, six (6) months’ probation and a $500 fine.
A conviction for a Petit theft can also have collateral consequences after a conviction. Some Collateral Consequences of a Petit Theft Plea may include:
- A driver’s License Suspension – Florida Statute 812.014(5)(b) requires the clerk of court to notify the DMV upon a conviction to suspend drivers license. First suspension if for 6 months and the second time the DMV is notified will result in one (1) year drivers license suspension.
- Civil Liability – Anyone who can show an injury from a theft related offense may have a cause of action for damages. This is usually a store like Macy’s or Target who will send a letter demanding a civil payment of $200 or they will threaten to Sue for civil damages. A resolution of this matter has absolutely no affect on the Criminal charges. This means that just because you may the civil penalty the criminal case will still remain open.
- Immigration – A theft related offense is considered a criminal of moral turpitude and may be a cause for deportation.
- Criminal Enhancements – A petit Theft with two (2) or more prior Petit Thefts can be upgraded to a Third Degree Felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison, 5 years’ probation and a $5,000 fine.
- Trespass Order – After an arrest or charges for a theft offense the place of business may deliver you a trespass order. A trespass order states that this property owner has ordered that you are not allowed on their property. A return to the property may result in additional criminal charges. We often times see these types of trespass orders issued from the Orlando area theme parks and commercial department stores.
Anti-Theft Class or Impulse Control Class
One of the most common requirements in resolving a theft related offenses will involve the completion of an Anti-Theft Class. The class can be completed voluntarily as a show of responsibility to assist in negotiations, as a condition of probation or even as a condition of a pretrial diversion program offered by the State Attorneys Office. The Anti-Theft Class/Impulse Control Class can be completed in person or virtually as an on-line class.
Petit Theft Defenses
Before determining the defenses in the case, the Attorneys at Moses and Rooth Attorneys at Law will examine all the police reports, witness statements, surveillance video, Law enforcement body camera, pictures, and listen to 911 calls is available. Furthermore, we speak with all potential witnesses who may be able to assist in our defense of your case. Some of the defenses that we will consider for a Theft offense will include:
- Property value – The Government must prove that the property had value and that the value was over $100 for a first-degree misdemeanor.
- Co-ownership – someone who is the co-owner of property such as marital property may not be convicted of theft.
- Abandonment – Someone who abandons and voluntarily relinquishes their attempt to take property of another
Petit Theft Resources
Florida Statute 812.14(2)(e) – Petit theft defined value
Florida Statute 812.014(5)(b) – Driver’s License Suspension for Theft Conviction
Florida Statute 772.11(1) – Civil Liability for Theft Offense
Course for Theft Online – Virtual Anti-Theft Class / Impulse Control Class
Florida Statute 777.04(5) – Abandonment