Petit Theft

The crime of theft is defined in Florida Statute § 812.014 as being when an alleged offender knowingly obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or to use the property of another party with the intent to either temporarily or permanently deprive that party of the right to the property, a benefit from the property, or appropriate the property to the use of the alleged offender or a third party.

When the value of the property in these types of cases is less than $300, then an alleged offender can be charged with petit theft (often referred to as “petty theft”).

This charge frequently results from cases involving shoplifting, and petty theft is classified as a misdemeanor offense. However, the possible consequences of a conviction can be quite serious, including the impact of a criminal record.

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The Defendant was seen removing merchandise from a department store and was stopped by Loss Prevention. At the time of being stopped she had sunglasses and other merchandise that was not paid for, before she exited the store. After skillful negotiations between the state and Meltzer & Bell, this case was ultimately dismissed.
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Petit Theft Lawyer in Fort Lauderdale, FL

If you were arrested and charged with shoplifting or retail theft in Florida, you can give yourself the best chance at obtaining the most favorable outcome to your case by having legal counsel.

Meltzer & Bell, P.A. represents clients in communities all over Broward County, such as Fort Lauderdale, Sunrise, Coconut Creek, Plantation, Pembroke Pines, Miramar, Pompano Beach, and Davie.

Our experienced petit theft attorneys have experience on both sides of the aisle in Florida courtrooms, including time spent specifically as a Broward County Special Unit Felony Prosecutor.

This background gives our firm a unique perspective that enables us to understand the best way to approach these cases, and we can review the charges against your when you call (954) 716-8538 today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.


Broward County Petit Theft Information Center


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Petit Theft Charges in Florida

Petty theft is classified as a misdemeanor in Florida, but the value of the property that was allegedly stolen and any previous convictions can impact the nature of the charges against an alleged offender.

  • Second-Degree Misdemeanor — This is the classification for a first offense of petit theft of the second degree, which involves property valued at less than $100.
  • First-Degree Misdemeanor — This can be the classification for a first offense of petit theft of the first degree, which involves property valued at $100 or more, but less than $300. It can also be the classification for any petit theft committed by an alleged offender who has been previously convicted of any theft offense.
  • Third-Degree Felony — This is the classification for any petit theft committed by an alleged offender who has been previously convicted two or more times of any theft offense.

Many shoplifting cases involve a theft from one of the following businesses:

  1. a convenience store;
  2. a gas station;
  3. a liquor store;
  4. a supermarket;
  5. a drug store;
  6. a hospital; or
  7. restaurant.

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Broward County Petit Theft Penalties

An alleged offender faces the following possible sentences of imprisonment and fines if convicted of petty theft in Florida:

  • Second-Degree Misdemeanor —Up to 60 days in jail and fines of up to $500
  • First-Degree Misdemeanor — Up to one year in jail and fines of up to $1,000
  • Third-Degree Felony — Up to five years in prison and fines of up to $5,000 

However, in addition to the punishments listed above, an alleged offender is also subject to having his or her driver’s license suspended for six months upon the first conviction and one year for every subsequent conviction. Additionally, a conviction is also denoted on a criminal record, and this can cause several additional complications in regards to an alleged offender’s employment or academic career.


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Fort Lauderdale Petit Theft Defenses

It is not unheard of for innocent people to be charged with petty theft as a result of an honest misunderstanding. Some of the possible defenses in these types of cases may include:

  • Misidentification — An alleged offender may be falsely accused of shoplifting as a result of security officials confusing him or her with the actual thief.
  • No Criminal Intent — An alleged offender may have left a store’s property to retrieve a wallet or forgotten about a product in his or her shopping cart. There are occasions in which people accidentally leave the premises without realizing they are still in possession of property for which they never paid.
  • Lack Of Evidence — Sometimes the party that claims to have had its property stolen has no way of proving the alleged offender ever took the property in question.
  • Equal Ownership — In certain cases, an alleged offender may be accused of taking property that he or she has a legitimate ownership claim to.

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Find a Petty Theft Lawyer in Broward County

Were you recently arrested for petty theft in Florida? Do not delay in getting yourself legal representation so you can possibly have the charges against you reduced or completely dismissed.

Meltzer & Bell, P.A. handles these types of cases for clients in the greater Fort Lauderdale area, including Weston, Deerfield Beach, Hollywood, Hallandale Beach, Tamarac, Wilton Manors, Coral Springs, and Margate.

You can have our petit theft attorneys evaluate your own case as soon as you call (954) 716-8538 to arrange a free consultation.


This article was last updated on Friday, October 21, 2016.

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