Petit Theft Defense Lawyer in Jacksonville, FL
Shoplifting and other petit (or petty) thefts are often treated as a minor incident but can carry significant penalties upon conviction. The Florida Legislature has placed harsh penalties on shoplifters, especially on repeat offenses. The purpose of these laws is to combat the nearly fifty billion dollars a year that retailers lose to shoplifting. While the purpose of preventing this theft is noble, the parties that truly lose out are those individuals accused of shoplifting. Whether it is a false accusation, a moment of desperation, or a bad decision, a shoplifting conviction can be life changing. If accused, it is crucial to contact a criminal defense attorney who can explain exactly how the process works and fight for the best possible outcome.
Theft Charges in Florida
Commonly referred to as “petty theft,” petit theft is defined by Florida Statutes § 812.014(2)(e)-(3)(c). This is the charge that most shoplifting cases fall under. This is charged when the value of the property taken is less than $750.
- Second Degree Misdemeanor – petit theft of property valued under $100. Florida Statutes § 812.014(3)(a)
- First Degree Misdemeanor – petit theft of property valued between $100 and $750 or petit theft of any value after a single previous conviction of any theft offense. Florida Statutes § 812.014(2)(e) & (3)(b)
- Third Degree Felony – petit theft of any amount with two or more previous convictions of any theft offense. Florida Statutes § 812.014(3)(c)
Retail theft, or “shoplifting” is normally charged as petit theft, but there are some aggravating circumstances outlined in Florida Statutes 015.
- Third Degree Felony – Use of antishoplifting countermeasure or possession in a retail store or shoplifting of property greater than $750. Florida Statutes 812.015(7)-(8).
- Second Degree Felony – Retail theft of greater than $750 with the same previous conviction, an individual or group theft of over $3,000 within a 30-day period. Florida Statutes 812.015(9)(a)-(c).
- Other Theft Offenses – Information on other theft and property crimes can be found here.
Potential Penalties for Theft in Florida
- Second Degree Misdemeanor
- Maximum 60 days of jail, 6 months of probation, and $500 fine
- First Degree Misdemeanor
- Maximum 1 year of jail, 1 year of probation, and $1,000 fine
- Third Degree Felony
- Maximum 5 years of prison, 5 years of probation, and $5,000 fine
- Second Degree Felony
- Maximum 15 years of prison, 15 years of probation, and $10,000 fine
Possible Defenses to Theft Charges in Jacksonville, FL
Fortunately, there are quite a few possible defenses that can be raised. If you have been accused of shoplifting contact Lockett Law today to setup a free consultation and set yourself up for the best possible outcome.
- Factual Challenge – This is blanket term for alleging that the government got it wrong. This is either convincing a judge or prosecutor to dismiss the case, or winning at trial. This can be anything: “someone else did it,” “the property wasn’t actually stolen,” “the items were legitimately purchased” etc. A member of the legal team at Lockett can help sort through the best factual arguments.
- Intent – Crimes require a certain state of mind, or mens rea. Shoplifting and petty theft require the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew they were taking something that wasn’t there AND intended to actually deprive that item. This creates a lot of opportunities for a skilled defense attorney to erode the governments accusations and walk away with a not guilty verdict.
- Challenge of the Value – Many of the above crimes are charged as a more serious offense based on the value of the property alleged to be stolen or alleged to be damaged. A challenge to that value can lower the charges levied or even win the case at trial.
- Constitutional Challenges – Theft related offenses often involve some sort of search by the police, or at the very least contact upon arrest. Even a police officer that means well can trip up and violate a person’s rights. An experienced defense attorney can seek to have all charges dropped in these circumstances.
Criminal Defense Attorney near Me
Lee Lockett and the members of the legal team at Lockett law serve the North Florida area from Jacksonville. Lee Lockett has decades of experience prosecuting and defending individuals accused of property crimes and has an expert knowledge of the laws and procedures involved. The defense team at Lockett law have the track record to prove that they know how to handle allegations of shoplifting with the best possible results. Call a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney today at (904) 858-9818 or connect with our team in the chat window on the bottom right of your screen to have an open and free consultation today.