Florida Statute 812.014 defines theft as the acquisition, use, or attempt to acquire or use any property belonging to another person without their consent. This unlawful act involves taking away someone’s property or their right to benefit from the use of the property.
Even if the offender takes property for another person who does not have any right over the property, the action can be charged as theft. The offense can be petit theft or grand theft, depending on the property’s value, and charges of misdemeanor or felony can apply accordingly.
Why You Need a Theft Lawyer Near You in Daytona Beach, FL
Prosecutors in Florida courts use multiple main criteria for proving an accusation. First, that the offender intentionally acquired the property using unlawful means. Then, that the theft was intended to deprive the owner’s right to the property, either temporarily or permanently.
If you’re facing accusations of theft, you’ll need an attorney to defend your rights in court aggressively. Typical defenses include:
- Proving that the offender has a valid reason to believe that they had joint ownership of the property
- The defendant acquired the property for lawful use or had legal rights over the property to dispose of as they wanted
- The offender acted out of hardship or necessity
- The theft was committed in error
- The offender acted under duress or pressure from a third person
- The offender believed that they had the consent of the owner to use or acquire the property
- The defendant was acting under the influence of alcohol or drugs and did not know what they were doing
Understanding Petit Theft Charges
Petit theft charges are typically misdemeanor offenses and can be of two kinds such as:
- First degree petit theft, used for theft of property valued between $100 and $300
- Second degree petit theft, which relates to property valued below $100
If the charges result in a conviction, penalties can be up to 12 months in prison. However, if the defendant has been found guilty of the same crime two or more times in the past, the third arrest becomes a third degree felony.
Understanding Grand Theft Charges
Grand theft charges are typically third degree felony and involve the theft of property worth $300 and above. Convictions may lead to prison sentences of up to five years, potentially followed by up to five years of probation.
First degree grand theft incurs penalties of up to 30 years in prison and a maximum of $10,000 in fines. Here are some of the offenses considered first degree theft:
- Using a motor vehicle during the offense
- Damaging someone else’s property worth more than $1,000 during the theft
- $50,000 or more of cargo stolen during interstate transit
- $100,000 or more of property
Second degree grand theft leads to as much as 15 years in prison or 15 years’ probation and a maximum fine of $10,000. The stolen property for this offense may be:
- Valued between $20,000 and $100,000
- Cargo worth $50,000 or less stolen during interstate transit
- Emergency medical equipment worth $300 or more and taken from a licensed emergency facility
- Property worth $300 or more taken from an authorized law enforcement vehicle
Third degree grand theft carries penalties of up to five years in prison or five years’ probation along with a $5,000 fine for property such as:
- Property worth between $300 and $20,000
- A codicil, will, or any other testamentary document
- Motor vehicles
- Commercially farmed livestock
- Stop signs
- Equipment taken from a construction site
- Fire extinguishers
- Anhydrous ammonia or any other controlled substance
- More than 2,000 individual citrus fruit pieces
Contact Smith & Eulo Law Firm
If you’re facing petit theft or grand theft charges, contact us at Smith & Eulo Law Firm. They are well-versed in the functioning of the Florida judicial system and prosecutors. Trust in our expertise to help you with legal intricacies like figuring the property’s actual value when designing your defense. You could get the charges minimized or dismissed entirely.