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Petit Theft in Florida

According to Florida Statute §812.014(2)(e), if a person takes a property unlawfully or illegally and the worth of the property is below $750, it will be considered as petit theft. 

However, it is mandatory for the state to prove that the property whose worth is below $750 and has been taken from someone else with the following intentions:

Depriving the victim of the rights attached to the property or any benefits from the property.

Personally, using the property of the victim or allowing someone else to use it who has no right to use that property.  

Penalties for Petit Theft

In Florida, petit theft is further classified into two categories. Therefore, penalties and crime degrees are charged according to the value of the concerned property. 

Petit Theft of the Second Degree

In Florida, if the total worth of the stolen property is below $100, it will be categorized as a second degree petit theft. If a person is found guilty of such charges, he/she may be handed any of the following legal penalties:
Imprisonment of not more than six months
Probation of no more than six months
A fine not more than $500 

Petit Theft of the First Degree

A petit theft will be categorized in the first degree if:
The total value of the stolen property is greater than $100 and below $750; or
The accused has already been convicted of theft.
If a person is found guilty of above-mentioned charges, he/she may face any of the following penalties:
Imprisonment of not more than one year
Probation of no more than one year
A fine not more than $1,000 

Statute of Limitations for Petit Theft

Florida Statute §812.035(10), states that a prosecution of any case related to petit theft can be initiated within five years of the offense committed. That said, you cannot initiate any legal proceedings related to petit theft if five years have passed since the offense. However, there can be exceptions to this rule in some cases. 

Defenses to Petit Theft

Equal Ownership

If the concerned property is owned by more than one person, then one person cannot be held guilty for taking or possessing the property unless the other partner or owner has superior rights over the property. 

Good Faith Belief

As per the laws of Florida, a prosecutor must prove to the court that the accused person took or possessed the concerned property with unlawful, illegal, or ill intentions. Therefore, if a person has any right over the property, and he/she takes or possesses the property in good faith, he/she cannot be held guilty for petit theft. 

Mere Presence

As per the laws of Florida, a person cannot be held guilty just because of mere knowledge or mere presence at the crime scene. For example, if your friend accompanies you to a store and he/she commits a petit theft, but you did not assist him/her in any way, you cannot be convicted in such circumstances. 

Valueless Property

According to the laws of Florida, a person can only be convicted if he/she is involved in the theft of a property. Now, it is important to understand that property means anything that has a market or monetary value. If the value of the stolen property is not ascertainable, it cannot be considered as property. For example, if you throw something in garbage or road, it means that the item has no value anymore, and if someone picks it up, he/she cannot be held guilty for petit theft in such circumstances. 

Voluntary Abandonment

Voluntary abandonment can be used as a defense in petit theft. It means that you were attempting a petit theft, and you intentionally abandoned the theft due to some circumstances you encountered during the theft. 

Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Larry Avallone

If you have been charged or arrested in the Daytona Beach area, contact Larry Avallone, who is an expert Criminal Defense Lawyer in Volusia County. My initial consultation is completely free. I am ready to provide legal advice regarding the next steps in your case.

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