Petit Theft is a very common charge in the State of Florida and is frequently filed by the Broward’s State Attorney’s Office. However, there is nothing “petty” about the charge of Petit Theft.
Petit theft does not equal petty consequences. A conviction for Petit Theft carries very serious consequences. They can include jail time, probation, restitution, fines, and court costs. However, the most devastating consequence for a conviction of Petit theft is a permanent criminal record for a crime of dishonesty.
Attorney, Dave Simmons, at the Law Offices of Dave L. Simmons, P.A. understands fully the protracted negative impact that this conviction can have on lives of the individuals charged with this offense. As an experienced Fort Lauderdale Petit Theft Attorney, Dave Simmons will employ various defense strategies with the goal of having the case dismissed and your reputation restored.Definition of Petit Theft
As outlined in F.S. 812.014 Petit Theft occurs when a person steals or endeavors to steal property from a person or business and the value of the property is less than $300. Petit Theft is a misdemeanor offense.
Petit Theft is often charged in shoplifting cases where property is taken from a merchant. However, Petit Theft does not have to happen in a store.Elements of Petit Theft
To prove Petit Theft in a trial setting, the State must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt.
- The defendant knowingly and unlawfully or used (or endeavored to obtain or use) the property of the alleged victim;
- The Defendant did so with the intent to permanently or temporarily deprive the victim of any benefit from the property or appropriate the victim’s property for the defendant’s use or the use of any person not entitled to the property.
Florida’s Petit Theft Statute requires that the prosecution prove that a defendant had the “specific criminal intent” to deprive another of their property.Penalties for Theft Crimes
- Property valued at less than $100 is considered a second degree misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 60 days in the county jail, up to 6 months of probation; and a $500 fine.
- Property valued between $100 and $300 is considered a first degree misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 364 days in the county jail; up to one year of probation; and a $1,000 fine.
Moreover, Petit Theft is considered a crime of dishonesty and can have the following social and economic consequences:
- A permanent criminal history for a “crime of dishonesty”
- Loss of current employment and future opportunities
- Loss of academic scholarships
- Potential denial for applications for U.S. Green Cards and U. S. Citizenship
- Loss of the ability to lease an apartment
- Loss or Driver’s License
With this in mind there are a myriad of effective defense strategies an experienced Fort Lauderdale Petit Theft Lawyer will employ with the goal of having the case dismissed or the charges reduced to a lesser offense. An experienced criminal defense attorney will seek out any pretrial motions including motions to suppress evidence due to unlawful search and seizure and will look to see if any of the following can be raised as effective defenses:
- Customers mistakenly leaving the store distracted with merchandise
- Customer forgetting about items places in the cart (Cases of Bottled Water in Cart)
- Exiting the store for purposes other than to steal as to retrieve a wallet or purse
- Only a momentary and brief deprivation of property
- Being set up by a co-defendant
- Poor video quality resulting in a factual dispute
A Petit Theft conviction can have far reaching negative ramifications both in the present and the future. It is imperative to reach out to an experienced Fort Lauderdale Petit Theft Lawyer to enhance the possibility of the most favorable result. Broward Petit Theft Attorney, Dave Simmons, will employ an experienced skill set in an effort to have the case dismissed and your reputation restored.
If you have been charged with Petit Theft in Broward County or throughout South Florida, contact Fort Lauderdale Petit Theft Attorney, Dave Simmons, at the Law Offices of Dave L. Simmons, P.A. at (954) 765-3540.