What is Petit Theft?
Petit Theft is defined in the Florida Statutes under F.S. 812.014(2)-(3)(c). Where property that is involved in a theft is valued at less than $750, petit theft is usually the correct charge.
In order to prove the crime of Petit Theft, the following must be proven:
A. That the Defendant did knowingly and unlawfully obtain the property of the owner (victim) of the alleged stolen property; and
B. That the Defendant intended to do so to permanently or temporarily deprive the owner of his or her right to the property or to the benefit of the property for the Defendant’s own benefit or for anyone not entitled to the benefit
Petit vs. Grand Theft in Florida
Petit theft is a second degree misdemeanor when the property at issue is worth under $100. Grand Theft involves property that is valued at $750 or more.
When is Petit Theft a Felony?
Typically, Petit Theft is a misdemeanor offense, in Florida. However, there are circumstances in which simple shoplifting of small and inexpensive items can result in a felony.
How can an individual that shoplifts a small item like a pack of gum be charged with a felony?
F.S. 812.014(3)(c) provides that:
“c) A person who commits petit theft and who has previously
been convicted two or more times of any theft commits a felony
of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or
Petit Theft as a Second Degree Misdemeanor
Where a theft is for less than $100, and there are no prior convictions for any crime involving theft, the crime is charged as a second degree misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of not more than 60 days in the county jail.
Petit Theft as a First Degree Misdemeanor
Petit theft is charged as a first degree misdemeanor where the amount of the theft is between $100 and $299.99. The maximum jailtime one can be sentenced to is 364 days in the county jail.
The Effect of Two or More Prior Theft Convictions
Under Florida Law, one can be charged with Felony Petit Theft where the accused has been convicted of two or more theft crimes. This crime is a third degree felony and is punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
In order to convict someone of felony petit theft, the Office of the State Attorney, uses certified copies of previous convictions to prove that an individual has been convicted of at least two theft crimes previously. The Office of the State Attorney also uses a comparison of fingerprints to show two or more qualifying convictions. The author believes that Felony Petit Theft is most frequently charged in shoplifting crimes.
Conviction for Petit Theft Can Result in a License Suspension
F.S. 812.014(5)(b) provides that a judgment of guilt for Petit Theft includes a six month suspension of a Defendant’s driver’s license for the first adjudication of guilt and up to a one year suspension for a second adjudication of guilt.
Conviction Creates a Permanent Record of Dishonesty
Since Petit Theft is defined as a “CRIME OF DISHONESTY” it may impact a person’s ability to obtain employment, obtain a professional license, entry to the military, and or entry to college or post graduate school.
Have You Been Accused of a Crime?
It is critical that you seek legal representation immediately if you have been accused of a theft crime in order to avoid or minimize the consequences of a theft charge. If you have been accused of Petit Theft, Retail Theft, Shoplifting, or any other theft crime, call the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, and speak to an experienced criminal attorney to understand your rights. Call (904) 990-8000 for a free initial consultation today.
About the author
Neil Weinreb is a licensed Florida attorney who has been practicing in the area of criminal law for over 17 years in North Florida. Mr. Weinreb works for the Law Office of David M. Goldman in Jacksonville, Florida. Mr. Weinreb has worked as an adjunct professor teaching law to paralegal students at Jones College in Jacksonville, Florida. You can contact Mr. Weinreb at the Law Office of David M. Goldman for a free initial consultation.