In the state of Florida, theft crimes divide into two main categories: grand theft and petit theft. The distinguishing factor between these two types largely depends on the value of the property taken without permission or intent to deprive the owner of its use or possession. Petit theft, often referred to as petty theft, involves property of lesser value.
Understanding petit theft and its implications is essential to anyone residing in, visiting or doing business in Florida. Despite its name, penalties associated with this crime can be severe, especially if an individual faces multiple charges.
Defining petit theft
Petit theft in Florida refers to the unlawful taking of property valued less than $750. Florida statutes further break down this crime into two degrees. The first-degree concerns property valued between $100 and $749, while second-degree petit theft pertains to property valued less than $100.
Penalties for petit theft
Florida law imposes significant penalties for petit theft, and they vary based on the degree of the offense. A second-degree misdemeanor petit theft conviction could result in up to 60 days in jail, six months of probation or a $500 fine. Meanwhile, a first-degree misdemeanor petit theft carries a penalty of up to one year in jail, 12 months of probation or a $1,000 fine.
Implications of repeated offenses
If an individual commits petit theft multiple times, Florida law may escalate the charges. For instance, if a person with two or more prior theft convictions commits petit theft, regardless of the property’s value, the state could charge the crime as a third-degree felony. This elevation comes with potential penalties of up to five years in prison, five years of probation and a $5,000 fine.
Apart from criminal charges, an individual convicted of petit theft may face civil penalties. The person stolen from could potentially file a lawsuit against the offender to recover damages. The offender may have to pay the greater amount of $200 or triple the amount of the actual damages, as well as legal fees.
Petit theft in Florida is a serious crime with the potential for hefty penalties. Despite its seemingly minor nature, the consequences can significantly impact an individual’s life.