Theft is a serious offense, even it is petit theft. If you have been charged with theft of another party’s property, you need to act quickly to protect yourself from overly harsh punishment. Whether you are innocent or not, you need experienced legal counsel to defend your rights and your freedom.
Two Classifications of Petit Theft
Petit theft is stealing another’s property that is valued under $300. There are two classes of petit theft: first degree and second degree. According to Florida statute 812.014, second degree is theft of property under $100, and second degree is property between $100 and $300. Second degree petit theft is a second degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of $500. First degree misdemeanors are punished with a maximum jail sentence of 12 months, and a maximum fine of $1,000. Multiple or many charges of petit theft can quickly add up to considerable jail time and fines. When charged with petit theft, it is not uncommon for a defendant to be facing other, separate charges in addition.
Dine and Dash
Eating a meal at a restaurant and walking out without paying is a criminal offense of petit theft. However, if you had to leave due to an emergency, you simply forgot to pay, or some other mistake was made on your or another’s part, you did not commit petit theft.
The most common type of petit theft is theft of property from department, grocery, liquor, or convenience stores. These types of establishments offer a wide variety of moderately valuable items to choose from, distributed in amongst aisles that make it hard to see the offense occurring. However, not all shoplifting charges are valid. For instance, if you put something in the bottom of your grocery cart, such as a large turkey, and forgot to pay for it during checkout, you did not commit the offense of shoplifting. Forgetting to pay for an item is not a crime.
Pickpocketing, or robbery by sudden snatching, is actually a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, even if the property taken was less than $300. However, in order for the defendant to be charged with sudden snatching, the following elements must have been present, in accordance with statute 812.131:
- The defendant used any amount of force beyond that of the effort needed to obtain the property; or
- The victim offered any resistance or the victim was injured.
Essentially, the victim must have known what was going on in order for the defendant to be found guilty of sudden snatching. If they were entirely unaware, the offense of sudden snatching was not committed.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
In order to beat the petit theft charges you are facing, you need the assistance of an experienced West Palm Beach attorney. Contact the Skier Law Firm today for assistance. Our lawyers never stop fighting for your best interest and your rights.