If you have been charged with grand theft, it is important to understand what this means and the potential consequences. This is a serious charge that can have lasting effects on your life. You may be wondering what will happen next and what your options are. This article will help you understand the charge, its penalties, and the possible defenses.
What is Grand Theft, and How is it Different from Petit Theft?
The Florida Statutes define grand theft as the attempt to take, or the act of actually taking, someone’s property with the intent to use it for personal gain or to deprive the victim of the benefit of the property. The court must prove this crime with evidence of the item’s original price with the amount or percentage of the depreciation since its purchase, its condition and quality when stolen, and its manner of use.
Generally, grand theft in Florida includes all properties and items with a minimum amount of $750 or $300 if it is emergency medical equipment or for law enforcement. However, once the property’s value does not exceed the indicated threshold amount, the crime will fall under petit theft. It will be a misdemeanor crime with a maximum consequence of forfeiture obligations and no more than one year of imprisonment.
What Are the Types of Grand Theft?
Grand theft is relatively harsher than petit theft. It has three degrees with varying penalties depending on the value of the stolen property. These types are as follows:
Third Degree of Grand Theft
The third degree of grand theft falls under a third-degree felony with an offense severity rank of either 2, 3, or 4 in Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code. Its elements are:
- The worth of the property stolen is more than $750 but less than $20,000.
- It is a firearm, motor vehicle, or controlled substance.
- It is a codicil, will, or other testamentary instruments.
- It is something stolen by a hotel or restaurant employee during their employment, regardless of the property value.
Second Degree of Grand Theft
This second-degree has a level 6 offense severity rank under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code. The following are the elements to consider a grand theft a second degree.
- The property’s value is more than $20,000 but less than $100,000.
- It is a shipping cargo worth $49,999 or below.
- It is emergency medical equipment with a value of more than $300.
First Degree of Grand Theft
Lastly, the first degree of grand theft is a first-degree felony with a level 7 offense severity rank. These are its elements:
- The property is worth more than $100,000.
- It is a shipping cargo with a value of more than $50,000.
Grand Theft Against Persons 65 Years or Older
Different guidelines or elements will apply when we speak of grand theft crimes committed against persons 65 years or older. The third degree will include all properties between $300 to less than $10,000, while the second degree ranges from $10,000 to less than $50,000. On the other hand, a property must have a value of $50,000 or more to fall under the first degree.
What Are the Legal Consequences of Grand Theft?
Committing a grand theft crime can lead you to one or a combination of several legal consequences. These penalties may include paying fines, incarceration, or probation.
For instance, a third-degree grand theft has punishments of a fine of up to $5,000 and five years of imprisonment and probation (maximum). On the other hand, second-degree grand theft will require you to pay up to $10,000 and undergo probation or go to jail for 15 years (maximum).
Lastly, since first-degree grand theft is the worst, you can serve a minimum of 21 months or a maximum of 30 years in prison. You may also need to undergo probation for 30 years and pay a fine of up to $10,000.
What Are the Possible Defenses Against Grand Theft Charges?
While facing grand theft charges can be frightening for someone innocent, here are some ways to defend yourself in court. These strategies include:
If you are a co-owner of the property, you cannot receive any grand theft charges for taking it. However, the only exception is when the other party has a superior legal interest in the item or property.
The Property Has No Value
If the property you have taken came from the trash or by the road, the original owner has no right to sue you because the item will become valueless or considered trash.
Voluntary abandonment can also be a defense in court. It is an action where you are conscious and uninfluenced by any circumstances to abandon your attempt to commit a grand theft crime. It also involves your complete and voluntary withdrawal from your criminal intent to steal someone else’s property.
The US and Florida laws explain that mere presence, knowledge, and questionable behavior regarding a grand theft crime are insufficient to consider someone an accomplice of an illegal act. These things cannot justify accusations against someone who did nothing unlawful at the scene.
So, if your friend commits a grand theft crime while you are around, no one can convict you of being an accomplice unless they can prove you did something to aggravate the criminal act of stealing properties.
Good Faith Belief
You can also defend yourself against grand theft accusations with the good faith belief principle. Since this crime must have proof of taking property with the intent to steal, anyone who attempts or takes possession of something in good faith on the right to the item will not have the essential requirements of the intention to commit grand theft. Thus, the lack of intent is not a justifiable cause to charge someone with this illegal act.
Hire a Defense Lawyer in Clearwater
If you have been charged with grand theft in Clearwater, it is important to seek legal help as soon as possible. The penalties for this crime can be severe, and without an experienced attorney on your side, you may be facing a lengthy prison sentence or large fines.
Our criminal defense attorneys at Hanlon Law Clearwater have extensive experience defending clients against grand theft charges. We will work tirelessly to achieve the best possible result for your case.
Contact us today for a free consultation, and let’s discuss how to move forward.
600 Cleveland St #1100
Clearwater, FL 33755
Comments are closed.