Petit Theft in Florida (Definition, Penalties & Defense)

David Weisselberger | November 26, 2023

Case Category

Petit theft, or petty theft, is the intentional appropriation of property valued at $750 or less without the owner's consent, defined by Florida Statute 812.014. This statute outlines the offense as deliberately depriving the owner of property for personal gain, obstructing its intended use. 

The unauthorized taking is a crucial element, with a $750 financial threshold. This legal framework applies to scenarios like shoplifting. Petit theft inflicts financial loss and violates the owner's property rights. 

Understanding these intricacies, as outlined in Florida Statute 812.014, is vital for legal proceedings, anticipating penalties, and devising effective defense strategies in Florida.

What Is Petit Theft in Florida?

what is petit theft in florida

Petit theft occurs when an individual intentionally deprives the rightful owner of property valued at $750 or less without their consent. The act of depriving involves taking or using the property for personal gain, depriving the owner of its use or benefit.

What Are the Elements of Petit Theft in Florida?

For a charge of petit theft to be substantiated, certain elements must be present:

  • Value of the Stolen Property: The property taken must have a value of $750 or less. If the value exceeds this threshold, the offense may be classified differently.
  • Intent to Deprive: The offender must intend to either permanently or temporarily strip the owner of their property.
  • Unauthorized Taking: The act must involve taking the property without the owner's consent.

What Are the Penalties for Petit Theft in Florida?

The penalties for petit theft in Florida are contingent on the value of the stolen property and the individual's criminal history.

Second Degree Misdemeanor

Petit theft is typically categorized as a second-degree misdemeanor when the stolen property's value is $750 or less. Potential consequences could involve a maximum of 60 days of incarceration and fines capped at $500.

First Degree Petit Theft

In cases where an individual has previously been convicted of theft, a subsequent offense may be elevated to a first-degree misdemeanor. This could result in heightened penalties, with a maximum penalty of one year imprisonment and fines not surpassing $1,000.

Felony Petit Theft

If the value of the stolen property falls within the range of $750 to $5,000, the offense could be classified as a felony petit theft. Felony petit theft is a third-degree felony, carrying more severe consequences, including up to 5 years in prison and fines not exceeding $5,000.

What Are the Defenses of Petit Theft in Florida?

defenses to petit theft in florida

Several defenses may be employed to challenge petit theft charges:

Lack of Intent

If the accused can demonstrate that there was no intent to permanently or temporarily deprive the property owner, this may serve as a defense.

Mistaken Identity

If there is reasonable doubt about the perpetrator's identity, a defense strategy may involve arguing mistaken identity.


If the owner gave consent for the accused to take the property, it could be a valid defense against petit theft charges.

Property Ownership Dispute

In cases where there is a genuine dispute over property ownership, it may be used as a defense.

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How do I get a petty theft charge dropped in Florida?

Getting a petty theft charge dropped in Florida may involve legal strategies such as negotiating with the prosecution, presenting evidence that weakens the case against you, or proving a lack of intent. Consulting with an experienced attorney is essential to explore the best course of action for your specific situation.

What is the difference between petit theft and theft in Florida?

The primary distinction lies in the value of the stolen property. Petit theft involves property valued at $750 or less, while theft encompasses a broader range of values. The penalties and classification of the offense vary based on the value of the stolen property.

Can you go to jail in Florida for petty theft?

Individuals convicted of petit theft in Florida can face jail time, especially for repeat offenses or cases involving higher values of stolen property. The incarceration duration depends on the offense's classification, ranging from 60 days for a second-degree misdemeanor to up to 5 years for a third-degree felony.

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