In Florida, theft charges are categorized as either petit or grand theft. Grand theft is classified as a felony offense, making it a more severe charge. If convicted, the defendant could face a prison sentence, expensive fines, or both.
If you or someone you know is facing grand theft charges in Florida, it is important to be familiar with the legal implications and potential defenses you have available to you. More importantly, you should consider working with a defense attorney in your area to help navigate the legal landscape and make sure your rights are protected during this trying time. This page will provide valuable information on grand theft charges and the necessary elements to prove the offense, the possible penalties, and potential defenses.
South Florida Grand Theft Lawyer
Getting arrested for a crime is understandably stressful. When faced with the charges and penalties, you may be left feeling as if your case has no hope. That’s where we come in. The tough defense attorneys at Ian Goldstein Law have years of experience working with individuals in South Florida to fight criminal charges. Receive a risk-free consultation today by calling our office at (561) 600-0950 or leaving us an email.
Theft is defined under Florida Statute Section 812.14 as when a person knowingly obtains or uses the property belonging to another person with the intent to, either permanently or temporarily:
- Deprive the owner of their property or right to the property; or
- Appropriate the property to his or her own use or to another person not entitled to the property.
The state of Florida breaks theft down into two categories and criminal charges: petit theft and grand theft.
Petit theft is considered a misdemeanor offense for any stolen item or property valued under $750.
Grand theft is considered a felony offense typically for items or property valued over $750.
Elements of Grand Theft
For the State to establish and convict a defendant charged with a grand theft offense, they are required to prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant stole another individual’s property or possession;
- The defendant stole the property or possession without the owner’s permission;
- During the grand theft offense, the defendant intended to deprive the owner of their belongings either temporarily or permanently; and
- The stolen possession or property was valued over $750, or $300 for medical equipment or property belonging to law enforcement.
Penalties for Grand Theft Charges
A person charged with grand theft faces a felony offense in Florida. The exact penalties for a grand theft charge can range from a third- to a first-degree felony, depending on the value of the property allegedly stolen.
Grand theft is a third-degree felony if the alleged stolen property was valued between $750 and less than $20,000. Additionally, a person can be charged with grand theft in the third-degree for any of the following stolen items, regardless of their value:
- Any amount of a controlled substance
- A motor vehicle
- Commercial farm animal(s)
- Fire extinguisher
- Stop sign
- Testamentary instrument (will or codicil)
A third-degree felony grand theft conviction carries up to $5,000 in fines and up to five years in prison.
Grand theft is a second-degree felony if the alleged stolen property was valued between $20,000 and less than $100,000. Additionally, a person can be charged with grand theft in the second-degree for any of the following stolen items:
- Emergency medical equipment or property valued over $300 that belongs to law enforcement; or
- Cargo entering interstate or intrastate commerce valued at less than $50,000.
A second-degree felony grand theft conviction carries up to $10,000 in fines and up to 15 years in prison.
Grand theft is a first-degree felony if the alleged stolen property was valued over $100,000. Additionally, a person can be charged with grand theft in the first-degree for any of the following stolen items:
- Cargo entering interstate or intrastate commerce valued over $50,000; or
- During the commission of the grand theft offense, the accused person caused over $1,000 in real or property damage.
A grand theft charge can also be reclassified to a first-degree felony if the defendant, in the course of committing the offense, either damages another person’s real property with a motor vehicle or causes more than $1,000 in damage to another person’s property.
A first-degree felony grand theft conviction carries up to $10,000 in fines and up to 30 years in prison.
Grand theft is reclassified one level higher if the act was allegedly committed during a riot or an aggravated riot or within a county that is subject to a state of emergency.
Theft Against a Person 65 or Older
Grand theft has more severe penalties when the victim is a person 65-years-old or older. Florida Statute Section 812.0145 states that a person accused of committing grand theft against a person 65+ will result in penalties based on the value of property or finances stolen from the victim.
The defendant would face a third-degree felony for the alleged grand theft from a person 65 years of age or older if the valued stolen amount was over $300 but less than $10,000.
The defendant would face a second-degree felony for an alleged grand theft from a person 65 years of age or older if the valued stolen amount was over $10,000 but less than $50,000.
The defendant would face a first-degree felony for the alleged grand theft from a person 65 years of age or older if the valued of the stolen property was over $50,000.
Disclaimer: A grand theft conviction where the defendant stole $1,000 or more from a person 65 years of age or older is required to pay restitution to the victim, in addition to completing up to 500 hours of community service.
Defenses to Grand Theft
When facing criminal charges, it is important to remember that you are not immediately declared guilty. By working with an experienced attorney, you can strategize a defense to help lessen the charges against you, or have them dismissed.
Potential defenses to a grand theft case include the following:
- Lack of intent – Intent is a crucial element in a theft offense. Demonstrating you lacked the intent to permanently deprive someone of their property may be used as a defense.
- Ownership or right to possession – If you owned or had the right to possess the alleged stolen item or property, it may be an appropriate defense to your charges. For example, a document showing you partially or fully owned the property or item could serve as a defense.
- Mistaken identity – If you were not present at the time of the grand theft offense, you may have been accused based on mistaken identity.
- Lack of evidence – The State holds the burden of proof for the grand theft charges against you. If the prosecution is unable to provide evidence to prove you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, your charges may be dropped or dismissed.
- Consent – If the alleged victim consented to your actions or willingly gave you the property, you can use the defense that you were given consent.
- Entrapment – If a police officer coerced or induced you to commit a crime that you wouldn’t have otherwise committed, you may be able to use the defense of entrapment.
- Value of property – In order for a person to be charged with grand theft, in most cases it implies they stole something valued at or over $750. If the value of the alleged stolen property does not meet the threshold for grand theft, or one of the other exceptions set forth above, it may result in a lesser charge of petit theft.
Consult with a defense attorney near you today to discuss your options for defending against grand theft charges.
Contact a South Florida Grand Theft Attorney
Getting convicted of a grand theft charge can result in life-altering consequences. You may be required to pay expensive fines under the Statute, face prison sentencing, or both. Even after the legal battle ends and time has been served, carrying a felony offense for theft can cause long term effects to your personal and professional life. You may find it difficult to find a job, especially in a field where you would be trusted with anything of value.
If you are facing charges of grand theft, don’t go it alone. The South Florida criminal defense attorneys at Ian Goldstein Law Firm can help answer any questions you have, review your case details to strategize a defense, and fight to get your charges reduced or dismissed. If you want a strong legal defense team on your side, contact our firm at (561) 600-0950 today and receive a risk-free consultation regarding you