Florida Statute 812.005 et. seq. defines theft as unlawfully and intentionally taking another person’s property. The offender temporarily or permanently deprives the victim of their belongings, and the charges apply even if the defendant acquired the property for someone else.
Theft is a broad term with more specific criminal offenses contained within. Offenses like stealing, larceny, shoplifting, conversion, misappropriation, and embezzlement are different types of theft. Penalties depend on the value of the property and whether the offender has a history of similar crimes.
Theft Convictions Can Result in a Permanent Record
Theft offenses are aggressively prosecuted in Florida since they are termed “crimes of dishonesty.” A conviction can result in your name, fingerprints, and other information being added to a national database that potential employers can access for background checks. If you’ve been charged with theft, get a consultation with a skilled Lakeland theft lawyer who can collect the case’s evidence, and create a strong defense.
Possible strategies to get the charges dismissed or reduced include:
- The item was taken in error, or the accusation was a mistake
- Psychological conditions caused the crime
- The offense was committed under the influence of alcohol
- The property was taken in good faith, the defendant believed themselves to be the rightful owner
- The defendant did not realize they had taken the item in question
- It was thought that the owner had given permission
Depending on the value of the property, theft offenses are categorized into petit or grand theft (small and large).
Petit Theft Offenses Explained
Petit thefts are typically minor charges, and penalties for misdemeanors are awarded.
- Third degree – A third degree petit theft charge is for stolen property valued at $100 or below and is considered a misdemeanor offense. Penalties can be 60 days’ imprisonment and a maximum fine of $500.
- Second degree – If the property value ranges from $100 to $750, the offense is categorized as petit theft of the second degree and a misdemeanor. Possible penalties include up to one-year incarceration and a fine of up to $1,000.
- First degree – In case the offender has a history of petit theft of the second degree, the new offense will be prosecuted as a first degree misdemeanor. After two or more prior violations, petit theft becomes a third degree felony. The courts may award up to five years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $5,000.
Grand Theft Offenses Explained
Grand theft offenses are for crimes of great value. The stolen property is worth $750 or more.
- Third Degree – If stolen property is worth between $750 and $5,000, it is considered a third degree felony with punishments such as a prison term of up to five years and a fine of up to $5,000.
- Second Degree – Offenders stealing property valued between $5,000 and $100,000 are charged with second degree grand theft. Typical penalties include up to 15 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Third Degree – If the stolen property is worth $100,000 or more, the crime is considered grand theft in the first degree. Courts may award punishments of a prison term of up to 30 years and a fine of a maximum of $10,000.
If a motor vehicle was used to commit a theft in Florida, the charges are automatically converted to a first degree.
Furthermore, if the defendant caused additional damage to the victim’s property worth $1,000 or more while committing the crime, the charges are enhanced to first degree felony.
Several factors are considered when determining the value of any stolen property. Like, for instance, it’s fair market price and resale value. You might also want to know that targeting a senior citizen aged 65 years or more is a more serious offense and attracts harsher penalties.
Consult With the Attorneys at Smith & Eulo
If convicted of theft, you stand to lose more than just your freedom and incur monetary losses. You also risk long-term consequences like losing custody of your children, losing your job, and difficulty in gaining future employment. If you’re a student, gaining admission to school can also get complicated.
Getting the charges dismissed is your best chance at clearing your record. And, the experienced lawyers at Smith & Eulo can help. Trust in their 20-year expertise in navigating Florida’s judicial system for the right advice in resolving the charges to your satisfaction.