Petty theft in South Florida (petit theft) is a crime classified as a misdemeanor. It is the unlawful taking of another’s property that has a value of less than $300. Petty theft is divided into two degrees of crime. First degree petty theft is for property taken that has a value of under $300 but above $100. If the item is valued at less than $100 the crime is a second degree misdemeanor. The punishment for these two crimes is different. A first degree petty theft is punishable by a year in jail, a year of probation and/or a $1000 fine. A second degree petty theft is punishable by a six month jail sentence, six months of probation, and/or a $500 fine. The biggest punishment that defendants face if convicted for petty theft is that your Florida driver’s license can be suspended.
If you are convicted and adjudicated of a petty theft crime your driver’s license will be suspended. You should never plead guilty, even if you committed the offense. An experienced Miami, or Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer may be able to get the charges dropped, or dismissed. If not dismissed or dropped an attorney will ensure you get a withhold of adjudication which will save your driving privileges and your criminal record.
The most common form of petty theft charge is shoplifting. Shoplifting is when you fail to pay for something in a store with the intent to steal. The value of the item taken will determine whether you are charged with a first or second degree misdemeanor. Most first offenders will not be adjudicated and either be given a first offender program or probation. The key to defending a petty theft charge is to ensure that you don’t end up with a criminal record. You should hire a criminal defense lawyer as soon as you can to discuss all of the details of your case, and your prior record if any. While a petty theft charge may seem minor, if not handled correctly the consequences of a conviction can be devastating.
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