Florida Theft Laws
In the state of Florida, “theft” is a general term that applies to a wide variety of property crimes and offenses, including misappropriation, conversion, larceny, stealing, etc. Generally, theft is simply taking or using someone else’s property without permission or authorization to do so. It requires intent to take or use the property and intent to deprive the proper owner of possession or use of the property.
There are two distinct categories of theft in Florida law: petit theft and grand theft, with the former being a misdemeanor and the latter being a felony. A particular theft is categorized almost entirely based on the value of the property, and within one of those two categories is assigned to a degree level as follows. Keep in mind that only a qualified lawyer can assist you in making determinations in your case, and these definitions are general guidelines taken from Florida state statutes:
- Grand theft, first degree – the property stolen is worth $100,000 or more, the property is worth $50,000 or more and is bought or sold commercially, or the offender injures someone or uses a motor vehicle to commit the crime.
- Grand theft, second degree – the property stolen is worth more than $20,000 but less than $100,000 or was comprised of stolen medical or law enforcement equipment.
- Grand theft, first degree – the property stolen is worth more than $300 but less than $20,000, is a will or other testamentary legal document, is a firearm or a vehicle, or falls into one of various other object categories (specific quantities of fruit, controlled substances, farm animals, etc.).
Theft of any other property falls into the category of petit theft, in which the degree delineations are much broader.
When it comes to defenses for crimes of theft, defendants can benefit from having a defense lawyer to argue a defense for them. If the defendant had a good faith believe that he or she owned or had permission to take or use the property, if the property owner really did give permission or authorization for the taking or use, or if the defendant was involuntarily intoxicated, the defendant’s sentence may be mitigated or the charges may even be dismissed.
In terms of penalties, fines and even imprisonment can be punishment for theft as ordered by the court. Florida’s penalties for theft crimes are relatively serious, with imprisonment being a possibility for even misdemeanor offenses. Prior convictions can cause a theft offense to be considered as a higher charge and can carry even stricter sentences. Grand theft in the first degree, the most serious theft charge in Florida, can result in a term of imprisonment up to 30 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Have you been charged with theft or another related offense? At Barbas, Nunez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian, Lawyers and Counselors at Law, experienced Tampa criminal defense lawyers are prepared to advocate for you. Facing jail time or hefty fines is serious business, but the help of a qualified defense lawyer can drastically lower or dismiss the charges against you and can assist you in receiving a just and not overly harsh punishment. If you have been accused of theft or have another criminal law question or conflict, call toll-free at 1 (800) 227-2275 for a consultation today.