954-385-9160
1655 North Commerce Parkway, Suite 201
Weston, FL 33326
Criminal Defense Attorney

Petit Theft

Don’t let the name fool you, petit theft can be a serious crime. Although it is classified as a simple misdemeanor, it is punished by up to one year in jail! If convicted, the judge may also assess fines and/or probation. Under Florida law, there are two degrees of petit theft—first and second. The more serious charge, of course, is first degree petit theft.

Just like grand theft, the crime is defined by the monetary value of the goods that were allegedly stolen. If the property is valued at more than $100, but less than $300, the defendant may be charged with first degree petit theft, even if it is his first offense. A conviction may result in incarceration, probation, fines, or any combination of the three. Yes, petit theft is officially a misdemeanor, but most judges in Florida don’t take it lightly.

When a defendant is accused of pilfering property that it worth less than $100, he may be charged with petit theft of the second degree. If convicted, the judge can sentence him to up to six months in jail, probation, fines, or any combination of the three.

Once again, both crimes are considered misdemeanors, but the charges get frighteningly serious if the offender has previously been convicted of any theft. A defendant with a single prior who is convicted of either degree of petit theft will automatically see his sentence bumped up to a first degree misdemeanor. A defendant with two or more priors for theft who is convicted of either degree of petit theft will automatically have his sentence bumped up to a felony of the third degree. The likelihood of incarnation greatly increased in both instances.

Petit theft is not nearly as serious or as unambiguous a crime as grand theft. Many folks who are charged with shoplifting actually did forget to pay for the item in question. In cases that involve personal property, joint ownership may also be an issue. For example, if two teenagers bought a bike together and one takes possession of it without the other’s knowledge, is he guilty of petit theft? In other words, these cases are not always black and white.

If you or someone you know has been charged with petit theft in South Florida, the Law Firm of Evan H. Baron and Associates can help. To schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced petit theft attorney, call (954) 385-9160 today!