A misdemeanor theft charge may seem like a small matter, but Florida courts take these crimes very seriously. A conviction for shoplifting or petit theft will create a criminal record that makes it extremely difficult for you to live a normal life, permanently impacting your living conditions and career options. Before you plead guilty to the robbery or theft charges against you, contact Attorney George Reres for your confidential consultation. Call us today at (954) 523-3811 or complete our contact form to get started.
How Is Theft Defined Under Florida Law?
Florida’s theft statute prohibits any person from knowingly obtaining or using another's property for personal gain, to deprive the person of the property, or to convert the property for an unauthorized use (such as embezzlement). Crimes of theft commonly include physically taking property, but may also involve the unauthorized transfer of property or obtaining property by false pretenses. In these cases, “property” can have a wide range of applications, covering everything from cash and jewelry to real estate and corporate funds.
Potential Penalties for Theft in Florida
The punishments for theft vary depending on what was stolen, how much the stolen property was worth, and the specific circumstances surrounding the crime.
Second-Degree Petit Theft
The lowest level theft offense is “petit theft,” commonly called “petty theft.” The taking of property valued at less than $100 is a second-degree misdemeanor, and carries a penalty of up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
First-Degree Petit Theft
If the property stolen is valued between $100 and $750, a first-time offender may be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. If an offender has two or more prior theft convictions, a third petit theft offense will be charged as a third-degree felony.
Third-Degree Grand Theft
This lowest charge of grand theft carries a penalty of up to 5 years imprisonment and fines up to $5,000. You may be charged with a third-degree felony for theft of:
- property valued between $750 and $20,000
- property valued between $100 and $750 taken from someone's home
- a motor vehicle (where no other crime was committed)
- A will
- A firearm
- A stop sign
- A commercially-farmed animal
- Anhydrous ammonia (nitrogen fertilizers)
- An installed fire extinguisher
- Property taken from a construction site
- Over 2,000 individual pieces of citrus fruit
- Any amount of a controlled substance
Second-Degree Grand Theft
Grand theft of the second degree is a second-degree felony, and carries a sentence of up to 15 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000. You may be charged with this offense if the stolen property:
- Was emergency medical or law enforcement equipment valued at $300 or more
- Was valued between $5,000 and $20,000 and was taken during looting or riot conditions
- Was cargo valued at less than $50,000 and has entered interstate or intrastate commerce
- Was valued between $20,000 and $100,000
First-Degree Grand Theft
Grand theft of the first degree is the highest level of theft in Florida, and carries a sentence of up to 30 years imprisonment and a fine up to $10,000. You may be charged with this offense if:
- The stolen property is valued at $100,000 or more
- A semitrailer deployed by a law enforcement officer was stolen
- Cargo with a value of $50,000 or more was stolen and has entered interstate or intrastate commerce
- Grand theft resulted in more than $1,000 worth of damage to real or personal property
- Someone used a motor vehicle (other than a getaway car) as an instrument of a grand theft offense
- A second-degree offense occurred during a declared state of emergency or riot
Special Sentencing for Shoplifting and Stealing From Seniors
Shoplifting, known as retail theft, carries a few special provisions in addition to charges of petit theft. First, shoplifters must pay a fine between $50 and $1,000 or perform community service upon conviction. Offenders may also he held liable in a civil case, meaning they (or their parents or legal guardian) may be ordered to pay the victim up to three times the value of property stolen or $200, whichever is greater. Finally, shoplifters may be ordered to reimburse the victim for their attorney fees and court costs.
Florida law also has provisions to punish offenders who attempt to steal from a victim who is 65 years of age or older. If property valued at $1,000 or more is stolen from a senior citizen, the offender must make restitution for damages and complete at least 500 hours of community service in addition to any fines or sentences ordered by the court.
How Does Robbery Differ From Theft?
Robbery involves taking money or other property from someone using force, violence, or threats. Under Florida law, all robberies are charged as felony offenses. Common offenses include armed robbery, strong-arm robbery, home invasion robbery, and carjacking. Depending on the severity of the crime and aggravating circumstances, a conviction can result in fines between $5,000 and $15,000 and anywhere from 5 years to life imprisonment.
How a Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help Your Case
The prosecutor has to prove a number of factors in order to get a conviction in your case, including the value of the allegedly stolen property, your knowledge and intention of theft, and your willing participation in the crime. Our robbery and theft defense team knows how to challenge the evidence and charges against you at each step of the proceedings, working to get the case dismissed or the penalties reduced.
If you or someone you love has been charged with misdemeanor or felony theft, we can help. Call George Reres Law, P.A. at (954) 523-3811 or fill out our contact form to get answers at no cost to you.