Unlike other U.S. states that use the term “petty theft,” Florida calls theft crimes involving items below a certain value level as “petit theft.” Regardless of how it’s called in other states, petit theft can lead to penalties for anyone convicted.
Because the offense is called petit theft, you might assume that anyone convicted will only be given equally small punishments. Not only is this false, but anyone charged for multiple petit thefts can face increased penalties as their crime upgrades from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Petit theft classifications and penalties
A court can charge someone who allegedly stole property worth less than $100 with petit theft of the second degree. If convicted, the individual faces a misdemeanor of the second degree, which carries a maximum 60-day jail time and a $500 fine.
Those who allegedly stole property valued over $100 but less than $750 can face petit theft of the first-degree charges. If convicted, they face a misdemeanor of the first degree, which comes with a maximum one-year prison sentence and a $1,000 fine.
The penalties discussed above are for misdemeanors, but petit theft charges can eventually lead to felony convictions if the offender has a history of theft cases.
When petit theft turns into a felony
If a person is charged with petit theft and has been convicted of two or more theft offenses in the past, the conviction is upgraded to a felony of the third degree. A third-degree felony conviction carries a maximum five-year prison sentence.
Petit theft offenses may appear “small” compared to bigger and more violent crimes, but even a misdemeanor conviction leads to fines, jail time and a criminal record that can follow you for life. Multiple petit theft offenses can also lead to a more severe felony conviction. Anyone facing theft charges should consider approaching an attorney with theft law experience to understand how they can better defend themselves in court.