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Petty theft is one of the most common forms of theft committed in the U.S., and many of these crimes go unprosecuted. However, if someone is caught stealing from a retail store or tampering with price tags to lower an item’s cost, they could face charges of petit theft and could be punished with fines and jail time.

If you are facing a petit theft charge, Tampa criminal defense attorney Andrew Buda is here to fight for your rights. As a former prosecutor, Attorney Buda knows the strategies and tactics that the state uses to convict people of theft crimes, giving him an advantage in negotiations and in court. 

With his years of experience in the Florida legal system, he’ll be able to craft a strong defense on your behalf to ensure you receive the best possible outcome for your case. Call us at (813) 322-2832 to schedule a free initial consultation so we can discuss your case.

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To discuss your petit theft charges with attorney Andrew Buda at Buda Law, schedule a free consultation by calling 813-322-2832 today.

What is Petit Theft?

Generally, petit theft, also known as petty theft, is any theft of property that is not taken from a home or dwelling and is worth less than $750. Some of the most common petit theft crimes are retail theft crimes like shoplifting and employee theft. 

Florida Statute 812.014

Florida Statute 812.014 outlines exactly what constitutes theft and what theft crimes fall under the category of petit theft. According to Florida law, a person commits theft if they knowingly obtain, use, or attempt to obtain or use, someone else’s property. They must also have done so in order to permanently or temporarily deprive the owner of the property or to appropriate the property for their or someone else’s use.

Petit theft is described as any theft offense that would not be classified as grand theft. This means that petit theft is any theft crime where the stolen property is worth less than $750 and is taken from anywhere that isn’t a domicile or dwelling.

While this seems straightforward, there are some exceptions to this rule outlined in the statute. For example, theft of emergency medical equipment or law enforcement equipment worth more than $300 would be considered grand theft. Additionally, theft of citrus fruit over a certain amount would also be classified as grand theft.  

This statute also outlines the criminal penalties for petty theft, with varying punishments based on the value of the property stolen and the prior criminal history of the alleged thief. Stealing property that is worth less than $100 is classified as second-degree petit theft and second-degree misdemeanor. Stealing property between $100 and $750 is classified as first-degree petit theft and first-degree misdemeanor.

Regardless of the value of the property, if someone commits petit theft and they have one prior theft crime conviction, they can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. If someone commits petit theft and they have two or more prior theft crime convictions, they can be charged with a third-degree felony. In addition to the criminal penalties, those who commit petit theft may also face civil penalties from the victim, who may seek compensation for their losses as a result of the theft.

Tampa petty theft lawyer

Difference Between Petty Theft and Grand Theft

According to Florida statutes, grand theft is any theft crime in which the value of the property stolen exceeds $750, with certain exceptions. Since grand theft is a more serious crime than petit theft, it can have more serious consequences. For example, a first-degree grand theft charge carries a maximum punishment of up to 30 years in jail, up to $10,000 in fines, or both. 

Evidence Needed to Prove Theft

In order to prove someone committed petty theft, prosecutors must prove that:

  • The property was wrongfully obtained;
  • The property was taken intentionally; and
  • The property was taken to permanently or temporarily deprive the owner of that property, or appropriate the property for use.

In cases of petty theft, these elements are normally inferred based on the circumstances of the situation. For example, if someone pockets something from the supermarket and attempts to walk out of the store without paying for it, it can be inferred that they intentionally stole the property and planned to appropriate it for their own or someone else’s use.

Prosecutors and law enforcement officers may use things like CCTV footage and eyewitness testimonies as evidence of the alleged crime.

What are the Penalties for Petit Theft in FL?

In Florida, petty theft charges can range from a second-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony. Below are the criminal penalties for petty theft in Florida.

  • Second-Degree Misdemeanor Theft: up to 60 days in jail, up to $500 in fines, or both.
  • First-Degree Misdemeanor Theft: up to 1 year in jail, up to $1,000 in fines, or both.
  • Third-Degree Felony Theft: up to 5 years in prison, up to $5,000 in fines, or both. 

Additional Penalties for Felony Theft

Felony convictions often carry harsher penalties than misdemeanors, but unlike misdemeanor theft, felony petit theft can have consequences outside of the legal system. Convicted felons lose their right to participate in public elections and to own firearms, and may have difficulty finding employment, securing housing, or qualifying for government benefits. 

If you have been charged with petit theft and you have a history of theft, it’s important that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney regarding your case.

Why You Need an Experienced Theft Crimes Attorney From Buda Law

Despite what the name might suggest, petit theft can have a major impact on your life. If you have been charged with petty theft, you could be facing fines, jail time, and a tainted criminal record. That’s why it’s so important that those accused of these crimes contact a Tampa petit theft lawyer like Andrew Buda

He can help investigate the circumstances of your particular case and develop a strong defense against your charges, ensuring you receive the best possible outcome in court. He can also advocate for you outside of the courtroom, and can negotiate with prosecutors to help secure a favorable plea deal. 

Andrew Buda has years of experience serving the residents of Tampa and providing them with legal representation. With his experience in the legal system and his deep understanding of Florida law, you can rest assured that your case will be well taken care of. 

Defense Strategies for Petit Theft Cases

When fighting against petit theft offenses, criminal defense attorneys must create reasonable doubt in the minds of the judge and/or jury. They often do this by asserting:

  • The act was unintentional
  • The property was not wrongfully stolen
  • The act was not done to deprive the owner or appropriate the property for use
  • Their client’s rights were violated

For example, let’s say someone completely forgets to scan an item in their shopping cart at self-checkout, and they try to walk out of the store. If they are stopped by store security and charged with petty theft, their criminal defense lawyer would likely assert that they did not intend to steal the item.

Florida petty theft charges

Charged with Petit Theft in Florida? Call Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Andrew Buda Today

No matter how small the crime may seem, criminal charges can have a serious negative impact on your life. That’s why it’s crucial to seek help from an experienced legal professional who can guide you through the process and help you secure a favorable outcome.

If you have been accused of petit theft or another theft crime, the legal team at Buda Law is here to help. We can help fight against wrongful criminal charges and have your punishment lessened or even have your charges dropped.

In addition to petit theft charges, Tampa theft defense lawyer Attorney Buda can also defend against other theft crime charges, including robbery, armed robbery, and burglary. No matter what theft crime you’re facing, we’re here to advocate for you and defend your freedom. We serve the residents of the Tampa Bay area and can provide legal services for those in Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Polk County, Sarasota County, Pasco County, Manatee County, and beyond.

Call our law firm at (813) 322-2832 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with a Tampa theft lawyer today.


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