You’re stealing something minor and assume it won’t be a big deal if you get caught. Then you find yourself in handcuffs and facing a felony charge for grand theft in Florida. Florida has one of the lowest felony theft thresholds in the country.
Florida increased the threshold for felonies in 2019 from $300 to $750.00. This is the first increase since 1986 and brings the beginning value more in line with the economy.
Reformers were hoping for an increase to between $1,000 to $1,500. The $750 amount is a compromise due to retailers opposing the increase. Business owners say repeat offenders targeting high-value items will have more leniency with higher thresholds.
The new law extends the aggregation period from 48 to 30 hours for felonies. This means that if you steal small amounts totaling $750 over a 30-day period, you will face felony charges.
What happens if you find yourself facing criminal charges of grand theft? Your first step is finding an attorney. Your second step is to understand the charges you are facing. Keep reading to learn the different types of theft and penalties for grand theft in Florida.
Distinctions in Types of Theft
Grand theft is defined in the Florida Statutes §812.014 and has several levels. Theft is knowingly taking or using property belonging to another person.
It is also theft if you prevent the owner from using their property or appropriate the property to another person who does not have ownership. Each degree of grand theft has different criteria and penalties.
Third Degree Grand Theft
A third-degree grand theft felony charge is when stolen items have a value of $750 or higher but less than $20,000. Other items under this felony degree include:
- 2,000 or more pieces of citrus fruit
- Commercially farmed animal
- Construction site theft meets the criteria of Florida statues §810.09(2)(d)
- A controlled substance meeting the definition of Florida statutes §893.02
- Fire extinguisher
- Motor vehicle
- Stop sign theft
- Will, codicil, or another testamentary item
You may also receive a grand theft third-degree charge if you take items that have a value between $100 and $750 from a dwelling or an enclosed curtilage area.
Penalties for a third-degree felony include prison of up to five years, up to five years of probation, and a fine of up to $5,000.
Second Degree Grand Theft
A second-degree grand theft felony involves the theft of items with a value of $20,000 or more but less than $100,000.
Other items in this category include cargo with a value under $50,000 in the stream of interstate or intrastate shipping. This means shipments in transit between the shipper’s loading dock and the consignee’s receiving dock.
You may also receive a second-degree charge if you take emergency medical equipment with more than a $300 value. This involves theft from a licensed medical facility, an aircraft, or a vehicle under Florida statutes chapter 401 regarding medical telecommunications and transportation.
Stealing law enforcement equipment with a value of at least $300 that you remove from an emergency vehicle according to Florida statutes §316.003 is a second-degree felony.
Penalties for this level of grand theft include up to 15 years in prison, 15 years of probation, and a $10,000 fine.
First Degree Grand Theft
This is the highest level of grand theft and is for taking property with a value of $100,000 or more. It also includes the theft of a semitrailer under deployment by a law enforcement officer.
If you steal cargo with a value of $50,000 or more in the stream of interstate or intrastate commerce, you are committing first-degree grand theft. This means a shipment in transit between the shipper’s dock and the consignee’s receiving dock.
If you are committing any level of grand theft and, during that criminal action, you use a motor vehicle to assist you during the crime and damage real property, it becomes a first-degree felony. It may also become a first-degree felony if, while committing the crime, you cause more than $1,000 in damage to either personal or real property of another person.
Proving Grand Theft at Trial
When the prosecutor charges you with grand theft, they must prove the following elements:
- That the defendant took or used the property of another in violation of the law
- That the defendant intends to permanently or temporarily prevent the victim of their property or appropriate the property to another for their use
- That the property in question has a value of at least $750
When the prosecution files their complaint in all grand theft legal cases, they will have to show the above elements in the complaint. They must state how they allege your actions meet each element. The prosecution must then prove each of the elements beyond a reasonable doubt.
The prosecuting attorney must prove your intent to commit the crime. That means they must prove that when you took the property, it was with felonious intent. If they prove you have intent, then they must prove value.
Proving the property’s value is critical to a successful prosecution and conviction. The typical formula for determining value is using the item’s market value. This may be the property’s value at the time of the theft or the cost of its replacement.
The original purchase price of an item is not sufficient for proving value when a theft takes place. The original price is acceptable for establishing the item’s condition at the time of the theft, quality at the time of purchase, and depreciation percentage. If an item’s market value is not available, then the court may use a determination of its replacement value.
If your attorney shows that the prosecution is not proving one or more of the above elements, that defense may win your case. Your criminal defense attorney will be familiar with all possible defenses they can allege before and during the trial.
Defense Against Grand Theft in Florida
Each case is unique. Your attorney will likely advise you on what they propose using in your defense during your consultation. Some of the most common grand theft defenses include:
- Actions were taken out of necessity or duress
- Inflated value
- Lack of intent
- Mistake in ownership
- Using or obtaining property for a lawful purpose
Your attorney may file a list of affirmative defenses on your behalf during discovery.
Hire a Defense Attorney Today
If you are facing criminal charges for grand theft in Florida, you need the legal services of Hanlon Law.
At our initial consultation, we will review your case and advise you on how we propose defending you. A grand theft in Florida conviction will follow you for the rest of your life. Get the best defense possible by contacting us today.
600 Cleveland St #1100
Clearwater, FL 33755