Florida state law defines theft as the act of intentionally taking away another person’s property without permission, either permanently or temporarily. Theft also includes crimes where the offender obtained or attempted to acquire property or goods belonging to another person.
Penalties vary according to the value of the theft, and the charges are categorized as a felony or misdemeanor. The crime falls into one of two category, petit or grand theft. Either charge means that the defendant intentionally deprives an owner’s right to property or its use. Charges of theft apply even if the defendant acquired the property for another person’s use.
Contact an Ocala Theft Lawyer
If theft charges are proven against you, expect to pay fines and to spend as much as 12 months in jail. When this situation could happen to you, get in touch with the Ocala criminal defense attorneys at Smith & Eulo. With their expertise, they’ll advise you on the best course of action.
Possible defenses include that there was a misunderstanding about the property’s actual ownership or that the crime was committed under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Or, you may have been acting under duress from a third party. In some cases, the best path is to plead guilty and return the item in question to achieve a reduced punishment.
Theft Categories Include Petit Theft and Grand Theft
Typically, petit theft is considered a misdemeanor offense with penalties such as a prison sentence no more than 12 months in length. However, if the defendant has been convicted of petit theft twice in the past, the third offense becomes a third degree felony.
- If the stolen property is valued below $100, that is a first degree misdemeanor. Penalties of 60 days in prison and fines of up to $500 can be awarded.
- If the stolen property has a value between $100 and $300, charges of second degree misdemeanor apply. The courts may award one year of imprisonment with a fine up to $1,000.
Grand theft is a more serious crime, and third degree felony charges can apply. Florida law defines the act as the taking of another person’s property valued at $300 or above. Penalties may include a prison term of up to five years with another five years’ probation.
- First degree grand theft charges apply in case the property is worth between $20,000 and $100,000. If the offender used a motor vehicle to commit the theft or if the act resulted in damage to other property valued at $1,000, the charges become more serious.
- Second degree grand theft charges apply in case of property valued between $10,000 and $20,000. If the property stolen is medical equipment worth more than $300 or police equipment worth more than $300, the act is also considered second degree grand theft.
- Third degree grand theft charges apply in any case where the property is valued at less than $20,000 but more than $300. However, various other public and private property are included even if their financial value is lower, such as:
- Guns and firearms
- Motor vehicles
- Fire extinguishers and stop signs
- Anhydrous ammonia or any amount of controlled substances
- Commercially farmed livestock
- Over 2,000 pieces of citrus fruits
- Construction site equipment
Penalties for Grand Theft Conviction
- First degree grand theft convictions carry penalties of fines up to $10,000 and up to 30 years’ imprisonment.
- Second degree grand theft convictions include fines of up to $10,000 and up to a 15 years’ prison term or probation.
- Third degree grand theft convictions result in fines of up to $5,000 and up to a 5 years’ prison term.
In the face of petit or grand theft charges, you have the best chance of winning the case with the representation of highly-competent criminal defense attorneys. Contact Smith & Eulo to tap into their expertise gained in over 20 years working with the Florida judicial system. With them on your side, you’ll have people fighting for you to refute the charges, get a dismissal, or obtain the minimum penalties.