Petit Theft in Florida
If accused of Petit Theft in Florida, you need to know the:
Definition of Petit Theft
The crime of Petit Theft, sometimes referred to as Petty Theft, involves the unlawful taking of property worth less than $300.
To prove the crime of Petit Theft, the State must prove that you took property from another person with the intent to:
- Deprive the person of a right to the property or benefit of the property; or
- Appropriate the property for personal use or for the use of another person not entitled to the use of the property.
The value of the property taken determines whether the crime is:
Penalties for Petit Theft
The penalties for the crime of Petit Theft depend on the value of the property taken.
Petit Theft of the First Degree
It is considered Petit Theft of the First Degree if:
- The value of the property taken is worth less than $300, but more than $100; or
- You have a prior theft conviction.
If convicted of Petit Theft of the First Degree, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:
- One year in jail,
- One year of probation, or
- A fine of up to a $1,000.
Petit Theft of the Second Degree
If the value of the property taken is worth less than $100, the crime is considered Petit Theft of the Second Degree.
If convicted of Petit Theft of the Second Degree, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:
- Six (6) months in jail,
- Six (6) months of probation, or
- A fine of up to a $500.
Driver's License Suspension
If you are adjudicated guilty of Petit Theft, your driver's license can be suspended up to:
- Six months upon a first conviction.
- One (1) year for each subsequent conviction.
Defenses to Petit Theft
A co-owner of property cannot be convicted of Petit Theft for taking the property unless the complaining co-owner had a superior legal interest in the property. 
Good Faith Possession
Under Florida law, the crime of Petit Theft requires proof of a taking with the intent to steal. A person who takes possession of an item with the good faith belief in the right to the property lacks the requisite intent to commit theft. As a result, a well-founded belief in one's right to allegedly stolen property constitutes a complete defense to the crime of Petit Theft. 
Simply put, it is impossible to steal trash because Florida law only criminalizes the stealing of "property."
Property is defined as "anything of value" and the value is the "the market value of property at the time and place of the offense or, if such cannot be satisfactorily ascertained, the cost of replacement of the property within a reasonable time after the offense." 
Thus if someone places something by the road, it has become trash that presumably has no value.
It is a defense to the crime of Petit Theft that a defendant abandoned the attempt to commit the petit theft under circumstances indicating a complete and voluntary renunciation of the criminal purpose. 
While voluntary abandonment is a defense to the crime of Petit Theft, involuntary abandonment is not a defense. The distinguishing characteristic between the two is the reason for abandoning the petit theft. 
A voluntary abandonment occurs when your conscious, unprompted by encountered circumstances, causes you to withdraw from the attempted petit theft.
On the other hand, an involuntary abandonment occurs when unanticipated circumstances (i.e. belief scheme discovered) causes a person to withdraw from the attempted petit theft.
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