Florida law defines theft as the unauthorized taking of someone else’s property. Per Florida law, theft can take many forms, including larceny, misappropriation, conversion, stealing and other property crimes. The law further breaks down theft crimes into two categories: Petit “petty” theft and grand theft. The type of charge your teen receives, which depends on the value of the property stolen, dictates whether the state will prosecute his or her case as a misdemeanor or felony.

According to FindLaw, for the state to prosecute a person for petty theft in the Sunshine State, it must first prove the existence of three elements. The first is that your teen knowingly obtained or used the property of another. The second is that he or she did so, either temporarily or permanently, to deprive the rightful owner of the property itself or of the benefit of the property. The third element involves proving that your teen took the property for his or her own use or for the benefit of another person who was not entitled to use the property.

If the prosecutor can prove that each of the above elements exists, he or she must then establish which type of petty theft to charge your teen with: First-degree petty theft or second-degree petty theft. If your teen stole property with a value of between $100 and $299, he or she is guilty of first-degree petty theft and may have to pay a fine of up to $1,000. The judge may use his or her discretion to impose a maximum jail sentence of one year.

If your teen stole property with a value of less than $100, he or she is guilty of second-degree petty theft. The penalty for this crime is a fine of up to $500 and a maximum jail sentence of up to 60 days.

This article is for educational purposes only. You should not use it as legal advice.

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