To put it simply, petit theft is theft of property valued at less than $750. Remember that theft, robbery, and burglary are three different crimes in Florida. Robbery typically involves some use of force (or threat of force) while stealing someone else’s assets, and burglary usually requires the defendant to have broken into (or unlawfully remain in) someone else’s dwelling or structure. Burglary does not always involve stolen property.
Theft means that the defendant has taken or used someone else’s property without permission. A simple way to understand robbery is to consider theft with the added element of force or threat of force. However, that doesn’t mean theft is some minor crime without severe penalties or long-lasting effects. Even petit theft can land you in jail for up to a year—or more.
Degrees of Petit Theft
The dollar value of the property allegedly taken during the petit theft impacts the level of misdemeanor you will be charged with. Theft of property valued at $100 or more (but less than $750) will likely earn you a petit theft in the first degree charge. As a first-degree misdemeanor, a conviction of first-degree petit theft carries a possible jail sentence of one year (or a year of probation) and a fine of up to $1,000.
Petit theft in the second degree is reserved for theft of property valued at less than $100. A second-degree misdemeanor, a conviction carries a possible jail sentence of 60 days, probation for six months, a fine of up to $500.
Previous convictions for theft can bump up your petit theft charges. Two convictions of petit theft will earn you a first-degree misdemeanor charge regardless of the dollar amount of the property stolen the second time. More than two prior theft convictions means you will be charged with a third-degree felony regardless of the property’s value. This can land you in prison for up to five years or earn you five years of probation.
Jury Instructions for Theft
If your petit theft case makes it to trial, the jury will be instructed, by the judge, to ensure certain conditions are met before voting to convict. There are two main elements the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
- You knowingly and unlawfully used or obtained (or attempted to use or obtain) someone else’s property permanently or temporarily.
- You used or obtained someone else’s property with the intention of depriving the alleged victim of the right to, or benefit of, the property; OR “appropriated” the property for your own use or the use of any person not entitled to the property.
There are a number of ways a quality defense attorney can defend you against theft charges or employ mitigation strategies at sentencing, but you need to act quickly. The earlier you call an aggressive firm like Titan Law, the better chance you’ll have at trial.
Our team is made up of legal professionals who focus on helping Florida defendants protect their rights. We’re prepared to give you the best defense possible. Call us today at Call to get us in your corner.