Retail Petit Theft Notice To Appear

Criminal Charge

A notice to appear is a criminal charge in Florida.  That is why the notice to appear has a court date and time on it.  A notice to appear is NOT a civil citation like a traffic ticket.  The notice to appear is the officer’s way of charging a person with a criminal offense without having to arrest the person and take them to jail.  Officers can issue a notice to appear for certain misdemeanor charges like retail petit theft.  If you do not appear in court as required a warrant will be issued for your arrest.


At the first court appearance, the arraignment, the person issued the notice to appear will be required to enter a plea to the retail petit theft.  The options are not guilty, guilty or nolo contendere(no contest).  If the person enters a plea of not guilty they will be given another court date and the judge will ask the person if they are hiring a lawyer or representing themselves.  If the person pleads guilty or no contest then the judge will impose a sentence.  Since retail petit theft is a criminal charge a plea of guilty or no contest will remain on your record for the rest of your life.  Retail petit theft is a second degree misdemeanor if the value of the property taken is less than $100 and is punishable by up to 60 days in jail, and up to 6 months probation and/or up to a $500 fine.  Retail petit theft is a first degree misdemeanor if the value of the property taken is $100 or more but less than $300 and is punishable by up to 1 year in jail, up to 1 year on probation and up to a $1,000 fine.  The judge can also include in the sentence an anti theft class, community service, cost of investigation, cost of prosecution and court cost.  In addition if the judge adjudicates that person guilty then that person’s driver license can be suspended for a first theft and must be suspended for a second or subsequent theft with a conviction, regardless of if a motor vehicle was involved.

Pre-Trial Diversion

Some people who are issued a notice to appear for retail petit theft are eligible for a Pre-Trial Diversion Program.  If they successfully complete the Pre-Trial Diversion Program the State Attorney’s Office will drop the retail petit theft charge.


The mistakes the officer made in your case can mean the difference between a conviction and a dismissal.  Officers are trained to follow the law and to conduct investigations properly but everyone makes mistakes, including police officers and loss prevention officers.  Chris is a former prosecutor who has over 20 years experience defending people charged with retail petit theft.  Retail petit theft charges can be beaten for many reasons.  The consultation is free so call 407-740-8300 or email Chris at [email protected] to find out how Chris can help you.

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