Petit Theft Charges in Florida

Orlando Petit Theft Attorney

Any theft allegation in Florida should be taken seriously by the person who has been accused. You need a criminal defense attorney in Orlando who has many years of experience to assist you with the complex process of protecting yourself and fighting these charges. In Florida, petit theft is classified as taking property from someone with the intention to permanently or temporarily deprive that other individual of the property. Much like any theft allegation, being accused of petit theft requires your ability to take action quickly for your criminal defense.

If you have been accused of petit theft in Florida, it is essential that you get criminal defense representation from a lawyer. You need an attorney who is fully prepared to protect you in the Florida courts by minimizing the possible negative impacts that a theft conviction can have on your life. Serious possible penalties apply, even for petit theft. Many people make the mistake of assuming that this is a minor crime that they can handle on their own and only to find out later that they should have retained an experienced lawyer. There are several crucial questions to consider when it comes to being accused of petit theft. These include:

  • What evidence a prosecutor has to try to obtain a guilty charge or conviction against the defendant?
  • What alternatives are available for jail time that your theft attorney in Orlando may be able to assist you with?
  • What other penalties may be associated with a guilty verdict or a conviction?
  • What is the first course of action that anyone who has been accused of petit theft should take?

Petit theft throughout Orlando can be filed as a second degree misdemeanor or a first degree misdemeanor. In order for the crime to be charged as second degree misdemeanor, the value of the property in question must be less than $100. If the value is beyond $100, then first degree misdemeanor charges will apply. If you have a previous conviction on your record, however, you may be charged with a first degree misdemeanor for petit theft.

This term is usually used in cases of shoplifting. If you are found guilty of petit theft, the accused person can face fines of up to $400 or be sentenced to spend at least 6 months in county jail. In certain situations, the individual accused of the crime may be given time in jail as well as the fine.

Every petit theft case is unique and the penalties will vary as a result. Having a theft attorney to assist you will give you the best possible chance at having your theft charges dropped altogether or reduced. With the assistance of a theft attorney, a quality defense can be formed to assist a person who has been accused of petit theft. The right lawyer should be retained immediately.

Basics of Criminal Intent

The theft statutes in Florida outline that the prosecution must show that there’s an element of criminal intent in place for a person who has been accused. The purpose of taking the property must have been to deprive someone else of it for your own use. Therefore, the state has the responsibility of showing that the accused person intentionally took money or an item of property but also that these actions were taken with the goal to steal the property either temporarily or permanently. This question of fact is one that is addressed by the jury, but if the prosecution cannot illustrate both of these key elements then you have a greater chance of avoiding the criminal consequences.

Endeavoring to Steal or Attempting to Steal

Florida Statutes 812.014(1), you can be accused of committing theft if you knowingly use or obtain the property of someone else based on criminal intent. This has been interpreted by the courts at the appellate level by arguing that attempted theft does not exist. A completed theft crime can be proven when attempt and appropriate intent is established by the prosecution. Currently in Florida, there are no legal requirements that the person accused leave the place of business or pass all points of sale in order to be convicted of petit theft.

What is Temporary Taking?

Intent is largely determined in Florida based on how long the property was taken or used. Taking money for a few seconds, for example, is unlikely to meet the threshold for a theft conviction. However, beyond taking an item beyond three seconds may create enough of a question of fact for the jury.

The prosecution will use a broad range of tools to prove their case, such as:

  • Witness statements from the accused person
  • Admissions of the accused made to security officers or police officers
  • Video surveillance
  • Testimony from loss prevention officers
  • Testimony from others who witnessed the incident in question
  • Receipts
  • Testimony from other accused defendants
  • Business records
  • Photographs of the items taken
  • The items themselves

What to Do After You’ve Been Accused of Petit Theft

The police may try to encourage you to cooperate and provide information to them by making you feel as though this will assist your case. However, this is not guaranteed to promote your freedom and may actually be used to help convict you. With the help of an experienced attorney, a comprehensive defense can be formed to assist a person who has been accused of petit theft. It is necessary to hire a theft attorney against these charges as evidence against the defense must be developed quickly.

It can be very difficult for a prosecutor to prove petit theft when you have appropriate defense. This is because the prosecutor must illustrate beyond a reasonable doubt that you stole property with the intent to steal. Alternative penalties maybe assessed in your case if you are found guilty of a petit theft charge. These can help you keep you out of jail and include:

  • House arrest
  • Diversion
  • Withholding of adjudication
  • Electronic monitoring
  • Restitution in the amount of the stolen property

A person who has been found guilty of petit theft in Orlando may also have to deal with additional penalties, fines and consequences. These include:

  • Public embarrassment
  • Community service hours
  • Suspension of their driver’s license
  • Loss of an academic scholarship
  • Loss of trust from family members and friends

If you or someone you know has already been charged with petit theft crime in Orlando, you need a knowledgeable attorney who will work tirelessly to craft a defense that gives you the best possible chance of having the charges dismissed or dropped. While petit theft is typically classified as relatively minor in comparison to other crimes, it is without a doubt still punishable under the law and your lawyer should be dedicated to protecting you.

Anyone arrested for petit theft can face first degree misdemeanor charges or theft beyond $100 and no more than $300, although a first time offender who steals less than $100 faces a second degree misdemeanor.

Anyone with two or more previous petit thefts on their record can be charged with third degree felony and can face up to 5 years in prison regardless of the value of the item in general. This could lead to your loss of civil rights and being classified as a convicted felon.

Defenses to Petit Theft Charges

Your defense to a petit theft allegation will depend on the facts of your case, which is why your meeting with a lawyer should be scheduled right away. An attorney with a background in petit theft charges will know how to determine which defense is right in your case. Some of the common defenses to these crimes include:

  • Mistaken accusations
  • Accusing the wrong person or mistaken identity
  • Poor video quality, raising questions about whether the right person was accused
  • Inaccurate accusations made by security officers
  • Deprivation of property lasting momentarily
  • Customer leaving the store by mistake with the item
  • Items not found in the accused person’s possession
  • Being set up by another person, such as a co-defendant
  • Forgetting about items placed in a stroller or a bag
  • Leaving the store for some other reason than to steal
  • Price tags being removed or altered by past customers
  • Taking an item for a purpose beyond to steal

The goal of your Orlando petit theft attorney should be to create enough of a doubt about your guilt in this case such that the jury does not believe they have met the burden of proof. In order to be convicted of petit theft, the prosecution must comprehensively illustrate that the accused person did indeed take the property with the intention to take that property. Your lawyer will evaluate your case at the outset to determine what is right in terms of pursuing a criminal defense strategy designed to keep you out of jail and away from the long-lasting penalties tied to a criminal conviction.

An experienced Florida criminal defense attorney is a crucial asset in the development of your criminal defense case and you should not wait to get help from someone who is concerned about doing everything possible to protect your rights.

Contact an experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer at Frost Law today at (407) 670-5569 for a free consultation and review of your Petit Theft case.