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What are the civil implications of a petit theft?

Tampa criminal attorneys are often asked about the collateral consequences of a theft conviction.  While many individuals will quickly plea guilty to a theft charge to get out of custody or “to get it over as soon as possible.”  There are several long lasting implications of a theft conviction, we will discuss several of them in our Tampa criminal attorney blog.

First, your license could be suspended.  This is really shocking to most individuals, as they anticipate their license being suspended in a driving under the influence charge, they are blindsided by the suspension relating to the theft charge.  Florida Statute Section 812.014 permits the Court and DHSMV to suspend someone’s license for being convicted of a petit theft charge.  This is extremely problematic as these folks are attempting to pay off the heavy fines and restitution for the alleged theft.  As you can imagine, this only complicates their ability to successfully complete probation.

Secondly, a petit theft conviction is considered a crime of dishonesty resulting in the conviction forever being used against the individuals in courts.  Tampa criminal attorneys always conduct background investigations on potential witnesses and use prior convictions of crimes of dishonest against them to impeach them.  As you can imagine, this is very powerful before a jury because the Florida Standard Jury Instructions provide specifically for permitting impeachment with these prior convictions.  Additionally, employers will undoubtedly look negatively on the conviction as it goes to someone’s trustworthiness.  As you can imagine, it is extremely difficult to get a position, where one will be entrusted with money after having a prior theft conviction.  Frankly as we have told hundreds of clients, the desire to “get it over with” should not prevent you from seeking a Tampa criminal attorney and developing a plan to properly resolve the case.

Lastly, Florida law permits shop owners and businesses to seek civil damages from those accused of theft.  In some instances, they can seek up to three times the amount of the actual item stolen and attorney’s fees.  As you can imagine, this can lead to very large damages for relatively small items, like a can of beer or a piece of clothing.   We further discuss the implications of these civil actions elsewhere on our Tampa criminal attorney blog and would encourage you to read this article as well.  While the petit theft charge may only have minor financial fines, the civil damages may far out weigh the criminal fines.

If you or someone you know has questions about petit theft charges, contact the Tampa criminal attorneys of Hackworth Law for a free case consultation.  We have handled thousands of these cases and always offer free case consultations.  If you would like to contact one of our Tampa criminal attorneys immediately, please use the “contact us now” tab in the upper right hand corner of the website.  We appreciate you checking out our blog and look forward to hearing from you.