The defendant, a college student vacationing in Florida on spring break, was shopping at a Publix Supermarket with friends. A loss prevention officer accused the Defendant of putting food items into a brown plastic bag and leaving the store without paying for the items. Police placed the Defendant under arrest and charged him with Petit Theft.
Petit theft in the state of Florida is a misdemeanor, either charged as in the first or second degree. Possessions under $300 are knowingly and unlawfully taken. These possessions do not need to be taken from a store to be considered petit theft.
Petit theft can be charged when:
- Price tags are altered or changed
- Merchandise is transferred from one container to another
- Carrying the possession out of the store
In Florida, Petit theft is viewed as a dishonest crime. Many stores will have a zero tolerance policy, which states any person caught shoplifting be prosecuted to the fullest extent allowed by law. There are many penalties that one could face if charged with this, such as:
- Suspended license – Florida Statutes states that an individual can lose their license for up to 6 months if petit theft is charged
- Charge recorded on your criminal record – This can haunt you for the rest of your life as you may be turned down for employment, not qualify for financial aid, be accepted into colleges, turned away from housing to rent, a membership application, and more
- Charged with second-degree petit theft if the items were under $100 combined – A $500 fee could be imposed, as well as up to 60 days in jail
- Charged with first-degree petit theft if the items were between $100 to $300 combined – Up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fee could be imposed
If a second conviction of petit theft is charged, it can be charged as either a first or second-degree misdemeanor. Charges will range from $50-$1,000 with either up to 60 days in jail or up to one year in jail.
What the Prosecution Looks For in a Petit Theft Case
In a Petit theft case, the prosecution will look for various things that could go against the defendant. These things include:
- Statements from the store’s Loss Prevention officer
- Written statements given by any other witnesses in the store at the same time as you
- Statements you made to any store employee after the Loss Prevention officer detained you
- Statements you gave law enforcement
- Video surveillance of the store
If you have been charged with Petit theft, your best interest is to retain the services of an attorney. At Musca Law, our attorneys will work at putting together a defense strategy that is customized to your case. We will work hard at reducing or eliminating your charges and penalties altogether.
RESULT: The Attorney successfully negotiated with the State Prosecutor to dismiss the charge against the Defendant. Our Client is eligible to have his records expunged.