In Florida, Petit Theft is the act of taking something from someone unlawfully with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive the other person of the property. Those arrested for Petit Theft may face a first degree misdemeanor for thefts over $100 but less than $300, while first time offenders who steal less than $100 face a second degree misdemeanor. Those who have two or more prior Petit Thefts may be charged with a Third Degree Felony and face five years in prison no matter the amount of the theft.
There exist many defenses to Petit Theft and therefore it is important you have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. An experienced Florida criminal defense lawyer can challenge the witness statements or challenge the taking was not done intentionally and instead was an accident or a misunderstanding. An attorney can also help limit the restitution that is allegedly owed to the store.
Most commonly, individuals are charged with petit thefts (300 dollars or less). These crimes can range from a drug addict looking for ways to feed his habit to soccer moms who made a bad choice to everyday people who fell on hard times. Petit thefts are also enhanceable and subsequent convictions can lead to felony charges. Our attorneys have handled thousands of theft cases and know how to present your case effectively and efficiently. Even if the case does not permit a factual defense, often times the presentation of good mitigation can lead the charges being dropped or diverted.
At Arnold Law Firm in Jacksonville, Florida we practice not just the science of lawyering but the art of being a lawyer. A theft charge is anything but petty: don't leave your future to an un-counseled fate! Contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys for a 30 minute free consultation today at .
Listed below are Florida Theft statute and the statute regarding civil remedies available to stores or victims of theft.
FLORIDA'S PETIT THEFT LAWS
(1) A person commits theft if he or she knowingly obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or to use, the property of another with intent to, either temporarily or permanently:
(a) Deprive the other person of a right to the property or a benefit from the property.
(b) Appropriate the property to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to the use of the property.
(2)(a)1. If the property stolen is valued at $100,000 or more; or
2. If the property stolen is cargo valued at $50,000 or more that has entered the stream of interstate or intrastate commerce from the shipper's loading platform to the consignee's receiving dock; or
3. If the offender commits any grand theft and:
a. In the course of committing the offense the offender uses a motor vehicle as an instrumentality, other than merely as a getaway vehicle, to assist in committing the offense and thereby damages the real property of another; or
b. In the course of committing the offense the offender causes damage to the real or personal property of another in excess of $1,000,
the offender commits grand theft in the first degree, punishable as a felony of the first degree, as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(b)1. If the property stolen is valued at $20,000 or more, but less than $100,000;
2. The property stolen is cargo valued at less than $50,000 that has entered the stream of interstate or intrastate commerce from the shipper's loading platform to the consignee's receiving dock; or
3. The property stolen is emergency medical equipment, valued at $300 or more, that is taken from a facility licensed under chapter 395 or from an aircraft or vehicle permitted under chapter 401,
the offender commits grand theft in the second degree, punishable as a felony of the second degree, as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. Emergency medical equipment means mechanical or electronic apparatus used to provide emergency services and care as defined in s. 395.002(10) or to treat medical emergencies.
(c) It is grand theft of the third degree and a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, if the property stolen is:
1. Valued at $300 or more, but less than $5,000.
2. Valued at $5,000 or more, but less than $10,000.
3. Valued at $10,000 or more, but less than $20,000.
4. A will, codicil, or other testamentary instrument.
5. A firearm.
6. A motor vehicle, except as provided in paragraph (2)(a).
7. Any commercially farmed animal, including any animal of the equine, bovine, or swine class, or other grazing animal, and including aquaculture species raised at a certified aquaculture facility. If the property stolen is aquaculture species raised at a certified aquaculture facility, then a $10,000 fine shall be imposed.
8. Any fire extinguisher.
9. Any amount of citrus fruit consisting of 2,000 or more individual pieces of fruit.
10. Taken from a designated construction site identified by the posting of a sign as provided for in s. 810.09(2)(d).
11. Any stop sign.
12. Anhydrous ammonia.
(d) It is grand theft of the third degree and a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, if the property stolen is valued at $100 or more, but less than $300, and is taken from a dwelling as defined in s. 810.011(2) or from the unenclosed curtilage of a dwelling pursuant to s. 810.09(1).
(e) Except as provided in paragraph (d), if the property stolen is valued at $100 or more, but less than $300, the offender commits petit theft of the first degree, punishable as a misdemeanor of the first degree, as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(3)(a) Theft of any property not specified in subsection (2) is petit theft of the second degree and a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083, and as provided in subsection (5), as applicable.
(b) A person who commits petit theft and who has previously been convicted of any theft commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(c) A person who commits petit theft and who has previously been convicted two or more times of any theft commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(d)1. Every judgment of guilty or not guilty of a petit theft shall be in writing, signed by the judge, and recorded by the clerk of the circuit court. The judge shall cause to be affixed to every such written judgment of guilty of petit theft, in open court and in the presence of such judge, the fingerprints of the defendant against whom such judgment is rendered. Such fingerprints shall be affixed beneath the judge's signature to such judgment. Beneath such fingerprints shall be appended a certificate to the following effect:
"I hereby certify that the above and foregoing fingerprints on this judgment are the fingerprints of the defendant, _____, and that they were placed thereon by said defendant in my presence, in open court, this the _____ day of _____, (year) ."
Such certificate shall be signed by the judge, whose signature thereto shall be followed by the word "Judge."
2. Any such written judgment of guilty of a petit theft, or a certified copy thereof, is admissible in evidence in the courts of this state as prima facie evidence that the fingerprints appearing thereon and certified by the judge are the fingerprints of the defendant against whom such judgment of guilty of a petit theft was rendered.
(4) Failure to comply with the terms of a lease when the lease is for a term of 1 year or longer shall not constitute a violation of this section unless demand for the return of the property leased has been made in writing and the lessee has failed to return the property within 7 days of his or her receipt of the demand for return of the property. A demand mailed by certified or registered mail, evidenced by return receipt, to the last known address of the lessee shall be deemed sufficient and equivalent to the demand having been received by the lessee, whether such demand shall be returned undelivered or not.
(5)(a) No person shall drive a motor vehicle so as to cause it to leave the premises of an establishment at which gasoline offered for retail sale was dispensed into the fuel tank of such motor vehicle unless the payment of authorized charge for the gasoline dispensed has been made.
(b) In addition to the penalties prescribed in paragraph (3)(a), every judgment of guilty of a petit theft for property described in this subsection shall provide for the suspension of the convicted person's driver's license. The court shall forward the driver's license to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in accordance with s. 322.25.
1. The first suspension of a driver's license under this subsection shall be for a period of up to 6 months.
2. The second or subsequent suspension of a driver's license under this subsection shall be for a period of 1 year.
History.--s. 4, ch. 77-342; s. 1, ch. 78-348; s. 1, ch. 79-124; s. 1, ch. 80-389; s. 1, ch. 82-164; s. 1, ch. 86-161; s. 1, ch. 87-376; s. 1, ch. 88-312; s. 8, ch. 90-92; s. 1, ch. 92-79; s. 9, ch. 95-184; s. 30, ch. 96-247; s. 3, ch. 96-260; s. 49, ch. 96-388; s. 1819, ch. 97-102; s. 102, ch. 99-3; s. 36, ch. 99-6; ss. 67, 79, ch. 99-248; s. 2, ch. 2001-115; s. 1, ch. 2003-15; s. 2, ch. 2004-341.
FLORIDA'S CIVIL REMEDIES FOR THEFT
812.035 Civil remedies; limitation on civil and criminal actions.--
(1) Any circuit court may, after making due provisions for the rights of innocent persons, enjoin violations of the provisions of ss. 812.012-812.037 or s. 812.081 by issuing appropriate orders and judgments, including, but not limited to:
(a) Ordering any defendant to divest himself or herself of any interest in any enterprise, including real estate.
(b) Imposing reasonable restrictions upon the future activities or investments of any defendant, including, but not limited to, prohibiting any defendant from engaging in the same type of endeavor as the enterprise in which he or she was engaged in violation of the provisions of ss. 812.012-812.037 or s. 812.081.
(c) Ordering the dissolution or reorganization of any enterprise.
(d) Ordering the suspension or revocation of any license, permit, or prior approval granted to any enterprise by any department or agency of the state.
(e) Ordering the forfeiture of the charter of a corporation organized under the laws of the state or the revocation of a certificate authorizing a foreign corporation to conduct business within the state, upon finding that the board of directors or a managerial agent acting on behalf of the corporation, in conducting the affairs of the corporation, has authorized or engaged in conduct in violation of ss. 812.012-812.037 or s. 812.081 and that, for the prevention of future criminal activity, the public interest requires the charter of the corporation forfeited and the corporation dissolved or the certificate revoked.
(2) All property, real or personal, including money, used in the course of, intended for use in the course of, derived from, or realized through conduct in violation of a provision of ss. 812.012-812.037 or s. 812.081 is subject to civil forfeiture to the state. The state shall dispose of all forfeited property as soon as commercially feasible. If property is not exercisable or transferable for value by the state, it shall expire. All forfeitures or dispositions under this section shall be made with due provision for the rights of innocent persons.
(3) Property subject to forfeiture under this section may be seized by a law enforcement officer upon court process. Seizure without process may be made if:
(a) The seizure is incident to a lawful arrest or search or an inspection under an administrative inspection warrant.
(b) The property subject to seizure has been the subject of a prior judgment in favor of the state in a forfeiture proceeding based upon this section.
(c) The law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that the property is directly or indirectly dangerous to the public health or safety.
(d) The law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that the property is otherwise subject to forfeiture under this section.
(4) In the event of a seizure under subsection (3), a forfeiture proceeding shall be instituted promptly. When property is seized under this section, pending forfeiture and final disposition, the law enforcement officer may:
(a) Place the property under seal.
(b) Remove the property to a place designated by the court.
(c) Require another agency authorized by law to take custody of the property and remove it to an appropriate location.
(5) The Department of Legal Affairs, any state attorney, or any state agency having jurisdiction over conduct in violation of a provision of ss. 812.012-812.037 or s. 812.081 may institute civil proceedings under this section. In any action brought under this section, the circuit court shall proceed as soon as practicable to the hearing and determination. Pending final determination, the circuit court may at any time enter such injunctions, prohibitions, or restraining orders, or take such actions, including the acceptance of satisfactory performance bonds, as the court may deem proper.
(6) Any aggrieved person may institute a proceeding under subsection (1). In such proceeding, relief shall be granted in conformity with the principles that govern the granting of injunctive relief from threatened loss or damage in other civil cases, except that no showing of special or irreparable damage to the person shall have to be made. Upon the execution of proper bond against damages for an injunction improvidently granted and a showing of immediate danger of significant loss or damage, a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction may be issued in any such action before a final determination on the merits.
(7) The state, including any of its agencies, instrumentalities, subdivisions, or municipalities, if it proves by clear and convincing evidence that it has been injured in any fashion by reason of any violation of the provisions of ss. 812.012-812.037 or s. 812.081, has a cause of action for threefold the actual damages sustained and, in any such action, is entitled to minimum damages in the amount of $200 and shall also recover court costs and reasonable attorney's fees in the trial and appellate courts. In no event shall punitive damages be awarded under this section. The defendant shall be entitled to recover reasonable attorney's fees and court costs in the trial and appellate courts upon a finding that the claimant raised a claim which was without substantial fact or legal support.
(8) A final judgment or decree rendered in favor of the state in any criminal proceeding under ss. 812.012-812.037 or s. 812.081 shall estop the defendant in any subsequent civil action or proceeding as to all matters as to which such judgment or decree would be an estoppel as between the parties.
(9) The Department of Legal Affairs may, upon timely application, intervene in any civil action or proceeding brought under subsection (6) or subsection (7) if he or she certifies that, in his or her opinion, the action or proceeding is of general public importance. In such action or proceeding, the state shall be entitled to the same relief as if the Department of Legal Affairs had instituted this action or proceeding.
(10) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a criminal or civil action or proceeding under ss. 812.012-812.037 or s. 812.081 may be commenced at any time within 5 years after the cause of action accrues; however, in a criminal proceeding under ss. 812.012-812.037 or s. 812.081, the period of limitation does not run during any time when the defendant is continuously absent from the state or is without a reasonably ascertainable place of abode or work within the state, but in no case shall this extend the period of limitation otherwise applicable by more than 1 year. If a criminal prosecution or civil action or other proceeding is brought, or intervened in, to punish, prevent, or restrain any violation of the provisions of ss. 812.012-812.037 or s. 812.081, the running of the period of limitations prescribed by this section with respect to any cause of action arising under subsection (6) or subsection (7) which is based in whole or in part upon any matter complained of in any such prosecution, action, or proceeding shall be suspended during the pendency of such prosecution, action, or proceeding and for 2 years following its termination.
(11) The application of one civil remedy under any provision of ss. 812.012-812.037 or s. 812.081 shall not preclude the application of any other remedy, civil or criminal, under ss. 812.012-812.037 or s. 812.081 or any other section of the Florida Statutes.
History.--s. 12, ch. 77-342; s. 293, ch. 79-400; s. 1, ch. 84-304; s. 2, ch. 85-34; s. 4, ch. 86-277; s. 5, ch. 92-79; s. 1238, ch. 97-102.