The Defendant forgot to return a car key to a dealership after taking a vehicle for a test drive. The Defendant had no idea the State charged him with a Petit Theft crime until months later. The Defendant received a Notice of Arraignment after the hearing had passed. The Court issued a Bench Warrant for the Defendant’s failure to appear at the Arraignment hearing.
Petit Theft Crime in Florida
In Florida, Petit Theft is considered a first or second-degree misdemeanor, depending on the monetary value of the property stolen. For Petit Theft to be charged with second-degree, the offender steals $100 or less of personal property. A first-degree misdemeanor is charged when the amount is between $100 to $300 and the defendant knowingly takes the property from the owner. Petit theft does not have to take place in a store, rather it can be from a home, car, or any other place.
Petit Theft Penalties in Florida
As Petit Theft is a misdemeanor, the offender can spend time in jail. If the misdemeanor is a second offense for the offender, it can be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor. The judge can impose any combination of the following for each degree of theft:
- Six months in jail
- Six months of probation
- Fine of up to $500
- One year in jail
- One year of probation
- Fine up to $1,000
Other penalties for a second-degree misdemeanor include the loss of a driver’s license for 6 months, along with a permanent criminal record. This record could result in failure to be employed at various places, termination of an existing job, eviction of your rented apartment/house, loss of professional licenses, and acceptance into colleges. Your character and reputation are also put into danger when you have a criminal record.
If one is charged with Petit Theft, it is wise to seek the advice of a lawyer. A lawyer will be able to utilize one of many defenses:
- Equal ownership
- Good faith presence
- Mere presence
- Valueless property
- Voluntary abandonment
- Being set up by another person
- Falsely accused
- Customer mistakenly leaving the store
Motion to Withdraw the Warrant
A motion to withdraw the warrant can be filed by an attorney if there is proof that the defendant’s failure to appear in court was a mistake or was unintentional. Sometimes the defendant will not need to appear in front of the judge that issued the bench warrant. As each judge is different and may have their own specific rules for motions to withdraw the warrant, an attorney will need to be familiar with how the judge handles himself.
RESULT: The defense filed a Motion to Withdraw the Warrant and scheduled a hearing on the matter. The Defense contacted the State’s office and convinced them to reconsider the charges filed against the Client. The Defense successfully swayed the Prosecution to RECALL the warrant and throw out the criminal charges.