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What Is Petty Theft?


In 2016 there were over 200,000 cases of theft in the state of Florida. Of course, all of these cases cannot be lumped into one category, and every situation is unique and varies in degree of severity. However, one of the most common instances of theft is “petty theft”, this term is loosely thrown around in the media, but what exactly does petty theft mean? Essentially, petty theft is any situation where a person steals someone else’s property that has a value of less than $300.00. Of all types of petty theft, the most common occurrence is failing to pay for an item–also known as shoplifting.

Different Types of Petty Theft 

Florida law breaks down petty theft into two categories: first-degree petty theft and a second-degree misdemeanor. What differentiates what category a particular theft falls into is the value of the property that was unlawfully taken. If the theft involved property that was valued between $100.00 and $300.00 the offense will be classified as first-degree petty theft. If the value of the stolen property is less than $100.00, the offender will be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor.

For individuals convicted of first-degree petty theft they may face a fine of $1,000.00 and potential jail time of up to one year. On the other hand, an individual who is convicted of a second-degree petty theft misdemeanor can face a fine of $500.00 and potential jail time or probation.

It is important to note that any conviction of petty theft may be accompanied by a driver’s license suspension. Any driver’s license suspension can have a debilitating impact on an individual’s personal and professional life; thus, it is critical to take a petty theft charge very seriously. If you are charged with petty theft, it is important to immediately contact a criminal defense attorney. It is critical to not plead guilty or admit fault without first consulting with your attorney. Your attorney may be able to save your license and in certain circumstances may be able to get your charges dropped.

Civil Liability in Petty Theft Cases 

In addition to any criminal charges you may face, if you commit petty theft you may also be held responsible for civil damages. In most cases, an individual can be forced to pay back $200.00 or three times the value of the damages incurred–whichever is larger. What’s worse is that under certain circumstances an offender may also be held liable to reimburse the victim’s attorneys’ fees. That being said, the victim must make a demand for payment at least 30 days prior to initiating civil action.

Are You Facing Petty Theft Charges? 

If you have been charged with petty theft or any criminal offense it is critical that you reach out to someone who understands your rights. Attorney Deric Zacca is a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney with extensive experience in both Federal and State court.