Looking for a Petit Theft Attorney in Tampa?
When charged with the crime of petit theft, also known as “petty theft,” what should you expect? There will be mandatory court appearances. There is a possibility the charge will become part of your permanent record, without the ability to seal or expunge the record from the public. The sentencing options can run from pretrial diversion, to probation with fines, court costs, and community service. Jail time is within the range of penalties and prosecutors and judges will sentence defendants in petit theft cases to jail if they feel the circumstances justify such a harsh penalty.
If charged with a misdemeanor of this type you may think it’s ok to handle it yourself, rather than hiring a lawyer to represent you. Representing yourself may seem like a reasonable idea, especially if money for a lawyer is an issue and if you’ve never been in trouble before. However, before deciding to handle a criminal case like petit theft without a lawyer, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I really want to go into court without anyone by my side and plead guilty at my first court appearance? The first scheduled court date is an arraignment, where the court simply wants to know whether a defendant is pleading guilty or not guilty. Pleading guilty means the court will proceed to sentence you that same day. If you decide to go to court yourself and plead guilty you will be giving up any opportunity to actually investigate the evidence against you, negotiate with the prosecuting attorney, and pursue alternatives to simply throwing yourself on the mercy of the court. While paying some money to a qualified lawyer may be a hard economic decision, the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have someone appearing in court on your behalf, reviewing all of the evidence to make sure the state can prove their case legally, and negotiating with the state attorney to seek the most favorable resolution of the case may be worth the price of paying a reasonable fee to a lawyer.
- Will hiring a lawyer for a petit theft charge be too expensive? In most cases a petit theft charge can be handled by a qualified lawyer for a very reasonable fee when compared to felony cases or other serious matters. Furthermore, the fee can be paid under a payment plan, softening the blow of being charged with a crime and having to come up with money for representation. At KFBLAW we also extend our representation to help you should you be placed on a period of probation or should you enter into a pretrial division program. We will remain available to assist with working out any issues while you are on supervision, so long as you have not yet been violated by a probation officer. The piece of mind knowing you have someone in your corner until everything is done with is something important to consider.
While some people may think a minor petit theft, also called “petty theft” charge is not serious, the fact is that a history of petit theft conviction can have negative effects on a person’s life for years. Defending yourself by hiring a lawyer, exploring various options to deal with this problem, getting through it successfully, and perhaps maintaining the opportunity to seal or expunge the record entirely is well worth the effort of a lawyer by your side.