While stealing something of little value may not seem like a serious crime, it can result in some harsh and lasting consequences. Penalties for petit or petty theft can include fines, probation, and even time behind bars. Worst of all, being convicted of petit theft will result in the creation of your criminal record. This can lead to difficulties in education, housing, and finding a job. Sarasota theft attorney Erika Valcarcel understands how a theft charge can impact a person’s life. With experience as both a prosecutor and a defender, she will use her cultivated skills to craft the strongest possible defense. She will work tirelessly to ensure that your rights, and your freedom, are being protected.
Call (941) 363-7900 now to see how your charges can be eliminated or reduced, if possible.
Understanding Petit Theft
According to Florida law, petit theft is the unlawful taking of property that is worth less than $300 in order to deprive the owner of the property’s benefits or the right to the property. Attempting to steal an item with a value of under $300 is also considered a form of petit theft. Further, the crime does not have to take place in a store. Petit theft can occur anywhere, from unattended land to the interior of a private residence. In order to reach a conviction, the prosecution must prove the following elements:
- The accused stole, attempted to steal, or used an item that was the property of the victim; and
- The accused did so with the intent to, either temporarily or permanently, deprive the victim of their right to the property or benefit from the property or to allow the property to be used by anyone other than the rightful owner.
Penalties and Collateral Consequences
While petit theft is often filed as a second-degree misdemeanor, the criminal penalties can be substantial. A second offense can be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor, which carries higher fines, more time behind bars, and a loss of driving privileges. The severity of the criminal charges also depends on the value of the stolen property. Petit theft is filed as a second-degree misdemeanor or a first-degree misdemeanor when the value of the property is less than $100 or between $100 and $300, respectively. Penalties for this crime include, but are not limited to:
- Petit Theft (Second Degree Misdemeanor): A fine of up to $500 and up to 60 days in jail
- Petit Theft (First Degree Misdemeanor): A fine of up to $1000 and up to 1 year in jail
Once you have faced the criminal consequences of petit theft, leading a successful life can become enormously difficult. Finding a job might be all but impossible, as most employers do not jump at the chance to hire someone with a criminal record. Continuing your education might also be halted. Most colleges and universities thoroughly vet applicants before admitting them. What’s more, most scholarships are off-limits to those with conviction histories.
Let Valcarcel Protect Your Freedom
There are a number of effective strategies that a skilled attorney can use to get your charges reduced or dismissed in court. One of the more common defenses in petit theft cases involves proving that you never intended to steal the property in question. Perhaps you left the store to get your wallet from your car, or maybe you had forgotten that the property was on your person. It might also be the case that you are the victim of mistaken identity. Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable, making it entirely possible that you were mistaken for the true perpetrator.
If you have been accused of petit theft, you are likely worried about the penalties that could follow. Your family may not be able to survive without you, and it can be nearly impossible to find a job once you are released from custody. At Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A., attorney Erika Valcarcel understands the turmoil that can arise in these situations. She believes that the key to an effective defense is listening to your side of the story. Once all of the details have been gathered, your case can be presented in the best possible light.
Call (941) 363-7900 now to schedule a free and confidential consultation.