Petty Theft Defense
Jacksonville Petty Theft Defense Attorney
Doing Whatever It Takes to Safeguard Your Future
Theft of any kind is taken extremely seriously in the state of Florida. A misdemeanor charge of petty theft can lead to serious consequences, including the suspension of your driver’s license, inability to secure employment, fines, and even jailtime. If you have been accused of committing petty theft, you will need the services of qualified legal representation.
Our Jacksonville petty theft defense lawyer at Weldon Law Group, PLLC can work to vigorously defend you and avoid the worst impacts of these types of charges. We have over a decade of legal experience and understand how these cases are argued and decided in court. Our team can assess the facts surrounding your situation and advise you on what legal strategies we can pursue.
How Is Petty Theft Defined?
Broadly, petty theft is any theft or attempted theft involving property with a total value of less than $300. Petty theft can occur when the defendant steals from an individual or a business, but the offense does not have to necessarily occur in a store.
In order to prove petty theft, two things must be true. The defendant must have deliberately stolen (or attempted to steal) the property and demonstrate what is known as “required intent.”
It is important to emphasize that any taking of property must be deliberate. An accidental “theft” – say, you forget to pay for an item at a store or accidentally take the wrong purse off a bench – does not constitute petty theft.
Required intent refers to the principle that a person must have specifically intended to deprive a person or organization of the right to their property in order to be convicted of petty theft. This distinction is important, as it precludes some situations in which an individual temporarily takes a piece of property from someone else in a fit of anger but did not intend to appropriate its use.
A deliberate attempted theft is still considered actionable petty theft. Cases where it is unclear whether someone was attempting to steal something will often hinge on the establishment of required intent. Picking up an item to admire it for several seconds will generally not indicate an intent to commit theft. Holding on to an item that is not yours and starting to pace away, however, could constitute an attempt to steal.
The length of time the offending property was in your possession can make all the difference. Admiring an item for only a few moments is likely not enough to prove require intent. Examining an item for more than a few seconds could cross the threshold and lead to a petty theft conviction.
Petty theft can also be successfully pursued in instances where a defendant intended to steal from a store but did not actually leave the premises. There can often be sufficient evidence that an individual intended to steal even if they have not yet departed and completed the offense. Any attempts to conceal items that have not yet been paid for can contribute.
What Are the Potential Consequences of a Petty Theft Conviction?
Petty theft is a second-degree misdemeanor offense. Despite the relatively small value of the allegedly stolen property, a conviction can carry heavy penalties in the state of Florida.
A first-time offender can be sentenced to up to 60 days in prison if convicted of petty theft. Repeat offenders can sometimes have their charges modified to first-degree misdemeanors, which can result in up to a year of jailtime for each additional offense. It will also result in the loss of your driver’s license.
In addition to jailtime, you may be obligated to pay a fine, court fees, and restitution to the victim. You may also be placed on probation and expected to complete community service.
If you are convicted of petty theft, Florida law permits judges to suspend your driver’s license for up to 6 months. Should you face a second conviction, the court can suspend your license for an additional year.
It should be emphasized that a petty theft conviction can follow you for many years and limit future opportunities. Though it is only a misdemeanor, the state of Florida nonetheless categorizes it as a “crime of dishonesty,” meaning any background check is likely to flag a conviction. Having a petty theft conviction on your record can limit your ability to procure employment, obtain housing, and pursue other types of opportunities.
Why You Need an Experienced Attorney To Help You with Petty Theft Charges
Often, petty theft charges can be fought, especially if there is a lack of material evidence or misunderstanding of what occurred. Our Jacksonville petty theft defense attorney can build a robust case that works to protect you from a conviction.
The prosecution will often rely on written or spoken testimony and video surveillance recordings when arguing a petty theft case. If you are arrested on suspicion of committing petty theft, it is important that you not make any statements to law enforcement and instead request you speak to your lawyer. Anything you say during and following an arrest can and will be used against you. We can help you effectively frame your testimony.
We are familiar with the strategies the prosecution will use to pursue a conviction and know the best means of circumventing them. We are experienced in challenging the written or spoken testimony of loss prevention officers, many of whom are not adequately trained and are the only witnesses to the alleged offense We can also object to the use of indecipherable surveillance footage.
If an abundance of material evidence makes securing a favorable result in court unlikely, there are situations where a Pretrial Intervention, or PTI, can serve as an effective alternative. If you are a first-time offender, you may be eligible for relief through this program, in which your case avoids trial (and thus a conviction) and you instead undergo a rehabilitation program. You will be expected to pay restitution, participate in counseling, and complete community service, among other requirements, but the accusation of petty theft will be sealed, thus avoiding the negative consequences of a conviction.
Do Not Face Petty Theft Charges Alone
You should always retain effective legal representation when accused of any crime, no matter its size or complexity. Petty theft can be deceptive in how much a conviction can upend your life, so it is essential you get the best defense possible in order to protect your future. Our Jacksonville petty theft defense lawyer at Weldon Law Group, PLLC will explore every possible legal solution that can help achieve a favorable outcome in your case.
Do not wait to call (904) 712-2556 or contact us online if you have been charged with petty theft. We offer our legal services in English and Spanish.
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