In Florida, petty theft is perpetrated when somebody takes property with a particular state of mind, and the value of the property is not especially significant. If you are charged with petty theft or grand theft, you should consult an experienced attorney. At Hanlon Law, St. Petersburg petty theft lawyer Will Hanlon is committed to guarding the rights of the accused and can provide an aggressive defense against charges of either grand or petty theft.Facing Prosecution for Petty Theft
A prosecutor can obtain a theft conviction by showing that you knowingly obtained or used or tried to obtain or use or appropriate to your own use someone else's property in order to deprive that person of property rights or benefits. This is petty theft if the value of the property is low.
The least serious form of theft is second-degree petty theft, and it is charged if the property stolen is valued as being less than $100. This is a second-degree misdemeanor. The maximum sentence that would be imposed for a first offense is 60 days and a $500 fine. However, if you have previously been convicted of a theft crime, you can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor, and if you have previously been convicted two or more times of petty or grand theft, the current theft offense will be charged as a third-degree felony.
Additionally, if you are convicted of misdemeanor theft, your driver's license may be suspended. The first license suspension may be up to six months. A second suspension may be up to one year. If you are a minor, your driver's license suspension might serve as an alternative to being put in the Department of Juvenile Justice, getting incarcerated, or receiving probation. However, this alternative is not available if you have previously been adjudicated delinquent. Our petty theft attorney can represent St. Petersburg minors in these challenging situations.
When property is worth $100-$300, petty theft of the first degree will be charged. This is a first-degree misdemeanor. If you are convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor, either due to the property value or because it is a second conviction, you can be imprisoned for up to a year and fined $1,000.
If what would have been charged as petty theft is bumped up to grand theft of the third degree, due to it being a second or subsequent conviction for theft, you may face up to five years’ imprisonment and a maximum $5,000 fine. If violence was used, there may be additional charges or sentence enhancements.
You may have a strong defense against a charge of petty theft. If you pile up petty theft convictions, however, eventually you will be charged with a felony, and it will be much harder for your St. Petersburg petty theft attorney to negotiate or advocate for a lower penalty. Therefore, it is important to fight even first or second misdemeanor charges of petty theft. One possible defense is that you truly believed that you had a right to possess the property or that you owned it. The prosecutor must prove that you intended to deprive someone else of his or her property rights. If this is not proven beyond a reasonable doubt, you cannot be convicted. Another potential defense is consent. If you believed that you were given consent to take the property, this would serve as a strong defense. Similarly, if you believed, even mistakenly, that the property that you took was yours, there is no requisite intent to steal.
Sometimes there is a dispute about the value of the property stolen. If you were charged with grand theft, but a St. Petersburg criminal attorney can show that an improper value was determined to make this charge, you may get a plea deal for petty theft instead. Generally, the value is the market value of the property at the time and place of the offense or, when that cannot be determined, the cost of replacing the property within a reasonable time after the theft. While an original purchase price can serve as one factor in determining value, the court is also supposed to consider its general condition, percentage of appreciation or depreciation, and quality when bought.Consult a Dedicated Petty Theft Lawyer in the St. Petersburg Area
If you are seeking an experienced advocate to fight a charge of petty theft, Hanlon Law may be able to represent you. Our founder and principal, Will Hanlon, has been providing criminal defense representation since 1994. You can call Hanlon Law at (727) 897-5413 or complete our online form if you are being investigated for a theft crime or if you have been formally charged.