What is considered Petty Theft in Florida?

Larceny involves the taking of property belonging to another person. By taking the property, you have no intent of returning it to the owner. This means you deprive the owner of the belongings because you have permanently deprive them of it. In Florida, larceny and theft have the same legal definition. 

Theft is further broken down into categories. These categories outline whether the penalty for the theft, if convicted of the crime, will be a misdemeanor or a felony. A felony is a crime where you spend at least one year in state prison. A misdemeanor is a crime where you spend up to one year in county jail. Other penalties are included in the sentence such as restitution, probation and community service. 

What is Petty Theft in Florida? 

Petty theft, also called petit theft, is the taking of property valued under $300 with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property. According to the Florida criminal code 812.014, you don’t have to physically take the property. You can be accused of using the property and still face petty theft charges. 

Petty theft is a misdemeanor crime. It is important to note that petty theft isn’t just a crime that can be committed in a store. You can be accused of taking property value at $300 or less anywhere such as a restaurant, person’s house or government building. 

The State Must Prove You Committed Petty Theft 

You can be accused of petty theft. That doesn’t mean you are automatically guilty of the crime. The state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime. Florida requires state prosecutors use elements to prove their case. These elements are standard requirements in any type of petty theft case whether it allegedly happened at a store or in the workplace. 

First, prosecutors must prove that you unlawfully and knowingly obtained or used an alleged victim’s property. This means that you did not have permission from the owner to use the property. You also knew that you didn’t have permission and took or used the property anyway. 

The second element prosecutors must show is intent. You must have intent to temporarily or permanently do one or both of the following. You must permanently deprive the alleged victim of their right to have the property or any benefit of using it. If the state can’t prove that, then they must prove that you took the alleged victim’s property for your own use or to give it to someone who wasn’t entitled to have. 

Proving You didn’t Commit Petty Theft in Florida 

As long as you don’t plead guilty to the crime, you have the right to defend yourself. This is why you should hire a lawyer to represent you. Numerous defenses are available to challenge Florida’s petty theft case against you such as: 

1. Mistaken accusations. You were there, but wrongly accused. 
2. Mistaken identity. Someone else did it, but you are being accused. 
3. Set up by a co-defendant. 
4. Price tags were removed or altered by another customer without your knowledge. 
5. Poor quality video makes it impossible to see the real suspect’s identity. 

In some cases, abandonment and renunciation may be a defense. This occurs when you are accused of petty theft, but you only attempted to do so. You voluntarily abandoned the property. This means that you decided not to take the property and complete placed the property back voluntarily. At trial, your attorney has the burden of proving that you attempted to take the property, but voluntarily gave it back. 

Contact an Attorney for Help with Your Theft Charge 
William Hanlon Clearwater Criminal Attorney is available to help you fight your petty theft charge. He’ll determine the best defense based on the facts of your case and fight for you.