It is alarmingly easy to be charged with a theft-related crime in the Tampa Bay Area. More often than not, a simple accusation gets a case rolling against you. If you are charged with a theft related offense in Hillsborough County, Pinellas, Pasco, Manatee, Polk, or Sarasota, your first call should be to an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney like Maj Vasigh, PA to immediately set up your defense.

A theft crime conviction is a crime of dishonesty and can be used against you in numerous different ways in your future: it will brand your character as dishonest and untrustworthy on the record. It’s important that you fight aggressively to protect your future reputation; call now for a free consultation (813) 800-1111.

Examples of common theft related offenses:

Petit Theft: Petit theft is a very common charge in Tampa and frequently brought after an allegation of shoplifting. An experienced Tampa criminal attorney may be able to help you. A petit theft “Petty Theft” is a crime classified as a misdemeanor. Petit theft is the taking of property from another person with the intent to deprive that person of the property or take it for yourself or another. Importantly, there must be an actual victim who comes forward as the person who was deprived.

If the value of the property at issue is between $100 – $300, or you have a prior petit theft conviction, it is classified as a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in county jail. If the value is less than $100, the charge is a second degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail. In addition, if you are adjudicated guilty of petit theft, you are facing a suspension of your driver’s license for 6-12 months. If you are one of the the unfortunate souls who are accused of shoplifting from Wal-Mart, you should know that Wal-Mart is notorious for aggressively pursuing criminal charges against shoplifters regardless of the amount at issue, and regardless of whether you left the store with the items.

Grand Theft: Grand theft is basically the same as petit theft, except it’s charged when the value of the property is higher than $300. Grand theft is classified as a Felony of the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree depending on the value of the items allegedly stolen.

Common Defenses to Theft: Whether you’re charged with petit theft of grand theft in Tampa, South Tampa, New Tampa, Carrollwood, Brandon, Riverview, and Valrico, you should know that there are certain defenses that only an experienced criminal defense attorney would be able to know. For example, your case may be one where we work together to discuss whether you had a good faith belief that you had a right to possess the property. These are situations where someone tell you can use something and then later changes their mind and reports you to law enforcement. Or perhaps you shared some ownership in that property? Or what if the property at issue was nothing more than valueless junk? For theft charges to stick, the item at issue must actually have some value.

Worthless Check: Pursuant to Florida Statute 832.05, it is illegal for any person to obtain anything of value by means of a check, draft or other instrument, when knowing at the time of the making of that instrument, that the maker of the instrument did not have sufficient funds to which to pay the amount at issue. Basically, you knowingly wrote a bad check and got something in return. If the check at issue is less than $150, it’s classified as a first degree misdemeanor and punishable by up to a year in county jail. If the check was for more than $150, it’s actually classified as a felony of the third degree, punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Why isn’t the cut off point in value $300 like grand theft? Because, like sausage, no one wants to know how laws are made.

Importantly, you should know that even though a charge of obtaining property by worthless check is a serious offense, it’s often times wrongly brought against innocent defendants who simply made an honest mistake. The prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knew you didn’t have sufficient funds in your account. The law for bad checks allows a 15 day window for the accused to pay back the holder of the check upon proper notice. The reality for prosecutions of bad check charges in Hillsborough County, Pinellas, Sarasota, Polk, and Pasco county is that bad check charges are a pain in the neck for Prosecutors to prove. There are technical defenses available that only an experienced bad check attorney can help you explore.

Dealing in stolen property: Commonly known as fencing, Dealing in Stolen Property is an offense taken very seriously in the Tampa Bay area. Frequently these charges, which arise out of situations where you know or should know that the item at issue is stolen, are committed by people who are stealing to pay for their next fix. Dealing in Stolen property is classified as a second degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

If you have any questions about a criminal charge of grand theft, petit theft, or another theft related criminal charge, contact a Hillsborough County theft attorney today for a free no cost consultation (813) 800-1111.