Under Florida law, theft is defined as taking the property of another without their knowledge or consent. Theft encompasses a wide array of criminal offenses in Florida and is charged as either petty theft or grand theft. Being charged with theft might not seem like a major crime, but the consequences in Florida can be severe and can have major impacts on your future. It’s important to understand the intricacies of the law when facing theft charges.
Elements of Theft Under Florida Law
To prove theft under Florida Statute 812.014, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant knowingly and unlawfully obtained, used, or tried to obtain or use another person’s property
- The defendant did so with the intent to, either temporarily or permanently, deprive the victim of the property or his or her rights to it, or
- The defendant acted with the intent to appropriate the property to his or her own use, or to a person’s use who was not entitled to it.
If the defendant is found guilty of theft, the value of the stolen property will determine whether the charge is a misdemeanor or a felony.
Several factors determine the charges for a theft crime. Common minor theft crimes valued at less than $300 are considered petit theft and are charged as misdemeanors, while thefts over $300 are considered grand theft, and charged as felonies. The dollar amount determines the severity of the charge, but prior criminal theft convictions impact the charges as well.
Difference Between Theft, Burglary and Robbery
Understanding what crime charges you’re facing is important. Theft is one charge involved with taking another’s property, not to be confused with burglary or robbery. Robbery means you take something from someone else that doesn’t belong to you. Burglary involves entering someone else’s property without their consent, and Florida criminal law states you don’t necessarily have to take anything. These crimes are all different, and punishments for each can vary based on other factors.
Types of theft in Sarasota, FL
Petty Theft vs. Grand Theft
There are two types of theft charges in Florida: petty theft and grand theft. Petty theft is considered a misdemeanor in the state of Florida. The degree of misdemeanor depends on prior theft-related convictions and the value of the property. Grand theft is considered a felony and can range from third-degree felony up to a first-degree felony depending on the value of the property taken.
Penalties for Petty Theft in Florida
Penalties for petit theft depend on the value of the property taken and past criminal history of the accused. The judge has the right to impose any or all the following penalties for petty theft:
First degree petit theft:
- Theft of $100 – $300 in value
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- Probation of up to one year
- Jail time of up to one year
Second-degree petit theft penalty:
- Theft of $100 or less in value
- Up to $500 in fines
- Probation of up to six months
- Jail time of up to six months
In addition to these penalties, a judge can suspend your license for six months upon a first conviction, and up to one year for subsequent convictions.
Penalties for Grand Theft in Florida
The degree of grand theft depends on the value of the property taken. Below are the degrees of charges and penalties for each:
First degree grand theft penalty:
- Theft of $100,000 or more in value
- Penalty: Up to $10,000 in fines and 30 years in prison
Second-degree grand theft:
- Theft of $20,000 – $100,000 in value
- Penalty: Up to $10,000 in fines and 15 years in prison
Third-degree grand theft:
- Theft of $300 – $20,000 in value
- Penalty: Up to $5,000 in fines and 5 years in prison
Defenses to Theft in Florida
When dealing with theft charges, it’s very important to craft a strong defense for your case. Working with an experienced criminal defense lawyer is the best way to defend yourself. A good attorney will come in with strong defense tactics that will give you the best chance at getting charges reduced or dismissed.
One defense your lawyer might use is proving insufficient evidence in the prosecutor’s case. Another tactic could be showing proof that the stolen property did not exceed $300, reducing charges from grand theft to petit theft. Another defense could be to prove a lack of criminal intent, which is a requirement in grand theft cases in Florida.
There are a number of ways to defend a criminal theft case. Choosing a great theft defense lawyer will drastically improve your odds of a better outcome. Check out these legal resources in Sarasota, FL to help you understand your legal situation.
Contact a Sarasota Theft Lawyer
If you or your loved one find themselves in a situation where you are being accused of theft? Call us right away at 941-217-2118 to speak with a qualified legal professional or fill out the contact form on this page. We’re available 24/7, we offer free initial consultation and payment plans. In addition to our Sarasota office, we have offices in the following cities across the state of Florida:
*Additional Orlando Florida & Orange County Legal Resources