What happens if your charged with theft?

wallet theft

How bad is a theft charge?

The definition of theft can be summarized as the action of stealing, or a crime of stealing. The legal definition is a generic term for which a person intentionally takes the personal property of another person without their consent or permission for their own use. Is Theft civil or criminal? 

In the state of Florida, theft statute encompasses a wide range of criminal acts that include stealing cash or jewelry to embezzling money. The consequence a theft conviction can be serious and include imprisonment, fines, restitution, civil liability, and result in a criminal record.

In Florida, theft is defined as a person that knowingly obtains, uses, or attempts to obtain or use property of another person, either permanently or temporarily and proceed with either of the following:

  • deprive the person owning the property, or
  • convert the other person’s property to an unauthorized use.

Every state has different theft charges law with various limits and ranges, usually base theft charges by amount to fall within a classification of the charge. In Florida, there is petty theft and grand theft, with levels of severity within each of those.  A general breakdown of these charges and penalties are as follows: 

Petty Theft:  

  • First-degree Petty Theft for stolen property valued between $100 and $749

No more than one year in jail and no more than a $1,000 fine 

  • Second degree Petty Theft for stolen property valued less than $100

No more than 60 days in jail and no more than a $500 fine 

Grand Theft: 

  • First-degree Grand Theft for stolen property valued at $100,000 and up  

No more than thirty years in prison with a fine no more than $10,000 

  • Second-degree Grand Theft for stolen property valued between $20,000 and up to $99,999

No more than 15 years in prison with a fine no more than $10,000 fine 

  • Third-degree Grand Theft for stolen property valued between $750 and up to $19,999
  • Maximum of 5 years in prison with a fine no more than $5,000

The repercussion that is permanent is the lifelong criminal record that will follow you everywhere, no matter what classification the charges fall under and the punishment handed down.    

Do you go to jail for first time theft?

The specifics each case is handled differently based on the value of the merchandise stolen. Petty theft charges bail in Florida is typically $1,000 bail.  Most first-time offenders will face petty theft charges as a second-degree misdemeanor. This is punished by a maximum of sixty days behind bars. A second offense of shop lifting could face a first-degree misdemeanor, which can face punishment of one year maximum in county jail, twelve month probation, and/or a $1,000 fine.  

Can I go to jail for stealing from work?

Theft from your employer is never a good thing, regardless of what reasons you may have decided that was your best recourse. Your employer will have the right to press charges against you and depending on the value of what you stole, you could be facing petty theft or grand larceny. 

Either way, these are serious charges and could highly likely become public record. You could be facing time behind bars, fines, and legal fees. Or, if you’re fortunate enough, your employer could take another approach and not press legal charges. Your employer may offer to let you pay for or return the item in question. 

Once you have been caught in the act of theft, plead your case and follow these steps: 

  1. Apologize: By apologizing for your theft, you’re admitting it is wrong. This needs to be done in person and then send a written apology to follow up. Offer to pay for any out-of-pocket losses and offer your regrets for the theft. 
  2. Resignation: After being caught with a theft, request a private meeting with your direct boss and a member of the human resource department. Offering your resignation and plan to walk away quietly as opposed to be dismissed or fired by your employer. Refrain from listing this employer as a reference or anyone at the company as a reference. At this point, it’s probably best to resign and walk away from the situation.
  3. Do Not Sign Any Document: Yes, you were caught in the act of theft, and your employer may present you with a civil agreement that you’ll repay for the property you stole. Before signing this agreement, or any other document pertaining to your theft or employment, consult with a lawyer first. 

Theft of any size can have detrimental consequence to your career and future. Before you choose to follow through with an act of theft, consider the ramifications you could face afterward. 

arrested individual

What evidence is needed for theft?

If you are charged with the crime of theft, the State of Florida is required to produce evidence that is sufficient proof of each element in order to convict you. For example, a person charged with grand theft, the state will need to prove that the property is valued at $300 or more. Otherwise, the judge could dismiss the case stating theft false charges. You can be sure that the public prosecutor will review the case thoroughly with the person filing the charges and the detective assigned to the case before charges are pressed.

Theft is a serious crime, regardless of what was stolen and what reason you may have to justify the theft. Thinking the matter through before making that decision and walking away is always recommended. Call 727-571-9999 today for theft bail in St. Petersburg, FL.