Understanding Theft Under Florida Law
According to Florida Statutes section 812.014, a person commits theft if he or she knowingly obtains or uses another person's property with the intent to, either temporarily or permanently:
- Deprive the other person of a right to the property or a benefit from the property
- Appropriate the property to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to the use of the property
Some common examples of theft crimes in Florida include:
- Petty theft
- Grand theft
- Embezzlement and employee theft
- Stealing property from victims aged 65 years or older
- Obtaining a property using a worthless check
- Trafficking stolen property
Possible Penalties for Theft Charges
In Florida, theft crimes are classified according to the value or type of property stolen. If convicted, the potential penalties you could face for theft include:
Second-Degree — If the property that was stolen is valued at $100 or less, it is considered second-degree petty theft. This crime is punishable by a maximum sentence of 60 days in jail and a fine of $500.
First-Degree — If the property that was stolen is valued between $100 and $299, it is considered first-degree petty theft. This crime is punishable by a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a fine of $1,000.
Third-Degree Grand Theft — A theft crime is considered third-degree grand theft if the property that was stolen is:
- Valued at $300 but less than $20,000
- A will, codicil, or other testamentary instruments
- A firearm
- A motor vehicle
- Any commercially farmed animal
- A fire extinguisher, stop sign, or anhydrous ammonia
This offense is punishable by a maximum of five years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
Second-Degree Grand Theft — If the property that was stolen is valued at $20,000 but less than $100,000, it is considered second-degree grand theft and is punishable by a maximum sentence of 15 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
First-Degree Grand Theft — If the property that was stolen is valued at $100,000 or more, it is considered first-degree grand theft and punishable by a maximum sentence of 30 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
Common Theft Defenses
Some common defenses against theft allegations include:
- Consent was given by the property owner
- Good faith belief of ownership or right to possess the property
- Involuntary intoxication
- No intention to deprive the rightful owner of the property
Work With a Skilled Attorney
Defending yourself against theft charges without detailed guidance or legal representation could expose you to the possibility of getting convicted and facing the maximum penalties. If convicted, you could face severe consequences, including lengthy prison time, substantial fines, and other life-changing ramifications. Therefore, when facing theft charges, retaining a knowledgeable Florida criminal defense attorney is crucial to protect your rights and strategize your defense effectively.
For over a decade, I have devoted my career to providing experienced legal services and strong representation to individuals facing theft accusations. As your legal counsel, I will review the details of your case, carry out a comprehensive investigation, and outline an effective defense to pursue the best possible outcome for your case.