What You Should Know about Petit Theft

Petit theft, also known as petty theft, refers to the act of stealing property of relatively low value. In Florida, as in many other jurisdictions, petit theft is considered a criminal offense. Petit thefts can be complicated. In this blog, we will explain its legal definition, examples, classifications, penalties, and potential defenses.

Petit Theft in Florida

Defining Petit Theft in Florida

Under Florida law, petit theft is defined as the intentional and unlawful taking of another person’s property, with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive them of their right to possess or benefit from that property. The key element in petit theft cases is the value of the stolen property, which determines the severity of the offense.

The most common petit theft: retail theft

Retail theft, also known as shoplifting, is the most common type of petit theft. Most petit theft cases arise from allegations that occur at grocery stores. Double Scanning, swapping price tags, hiding items under bigger items, putting merchandise in a personal bag, etc. Grocery stores have cameras everywhere. Everywhere means everywhere! Particularly in the self-scanning section, they film you from every possible angle.

Classifications of Petit Theft

In Florida, petit theft is classified into three categories based on the value of the stolen property:


1.     Petit Theft of the Second Degree: If the stolen property is valued at less than $100 and the accused has never been convicted of any theft crimes, the offense is classified as petit theft of the second degree. This is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by a maximum jail term of 60 days, 6 months of supervised probation, and/or a fine of up to $500.

2.     Petit Theft of the First Degree: If the stolen property is valued at $100 or more but less than $750, the offense is classified as petit theft of the first degree. This is also a misdemeanor offense but carries more severe penalties, including a maximum jail term of up to one year, 12 months of supervised probation, and/or a fine of up to $1,000.


Felony Petit Theft: Petit Theft may be charged as a Third-Degree Felony if the

defendant has two or more prior theft convictions. A Third-Degree felony is punishable by up to 5 years in prison, 5 years of supervised probation, and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

Potential Defenses

If charged with petit theft, individuals may employ certain defenses to contest the allegations. Some commonly used defenses include:

1.     Lack of intent: If the accused can demonstrate that they did not have the intent to permanently deprive the owner of their property, it may serve as a valid defense.

2.     Mistaken identity: If the accused can provide evidence or witnesses proving that they were mistakenly identified as the perpetrator, this can potentially lead to a dismissal of the charges.

3.     Consent: If the owner of the property consented to the accused’s possession or use of the property, it can serve as a strong defense against petit theft charges.

Petit theft is a criminal offense that should not be taken lightly.

If you or your loved one find themselves in a situation where you are being accused of Petit Theft, call us right away at  407-930-8912 to speak with a qualified legal professional or fill out the contact form on this page. We’re available 24/7, we offer free initial consultation and payment plans. In addition to our Orlando location, we have offices in the following cities across the state of Florida:

*Additional Orlando Florida & Orange County Legal Resources