Criminal Law Questions? Ask a Criminal Lawyer.
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Good evening,I'm sorry to hear about what happened, but hopefully I can help put you at ease a little bit. Thefts are categorized under Florida law according to the monetary value of the property. Generally, thefts involving money, goods, or services that are valued at $100 or less are classified as second degree misdemeanors, punishable by a fine of up to $500 and up to sixty days in jail. The likelihood of you getting any jail time though if convicted for something so minor as a first offender is very very low.Indeed, you may be a good candidate for what is known as a "diversion" program. Upon acceptance into the program, all court proceedings are suspended. Thereafter, you promise to complete certain terms and conditions appropriate to the nature of the offense. For something like petty theft, that might include things like probation, community service, and attendance at an anti-theft class, for example. So long as you successfully complete the program terms and avoid new charges, at the completion of the program, the court will dismiss the charge, and you can then petition the court to have the record expunged so that it doesn't show up on background checks.I would highly recommend (as I do to all persons charged with a criminal offense) to consult with a local criminal defense attorney. Many offer free or low cost consultations and there's never obligation to hire them. But it will give you an opportunity before your court hearing to discuss your case, determine if you have any defenses, learn a little about how judges and prosecutors handle these types of cases in your county, etc.As the charge is punishable by jail time, you have the right to a public defender if you cannot afford a lawyer, which you can ask for at your first court appearance. I would NOT recommend simply pleading guilty. If you plead not guilty and ask for a public defender, that will give your lawyer time to negotiate with the prosecutor and get you the best deal possible.
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