Florida Theft Offenses

Florida Theft Offenses

Florida theft offenses are generally categorized based on the value of the items that are stolen and the type of property that is stolen. There are different penalties based on these categories. There are also different categories based on where the theft took place and the means used to steal an item. Generally, the more valuable the items are, the more severe the penalties are.  In addition to criminal penalties, the owners of the property the defendant illegally took or possessed can be sued civilly.

The definition of theft

Florida 812.014 defines theft as follows:

  1. A person commits theft if he or she knowingly obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or to use, the property of another with intent to, either temporarily or permanently:
    1. Deprive the other person of a right to the property or a benefit from the property.
    2. Appropriate the property to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to the use of the property.

Generally, theft includes physically taking property. It also includes exercising control of property through fraud, misrepresentation, and other means. Property includes real property, personal property, business property, various benefits, and various public and private services. Property also includes a person’s identity and virtual possessions. Examples of theft include taking items off of a shelf in a store, eating a meal at a restaurant without paying for it, unauthorized cable services, misuse of a power of attorney, and many other acts. Florida has separate statutes for receiving stolen property, theft of trade secrets and intellectual property, Medicaid fraud, and other types of theft.

How are theft crimes classified and what are the penalties in Vero Beach and Sebastian?

Florida classifieds theft crimes as follows:

  • Petit theft:
    • Petit theft of the first degree. “If the property stolen is valued at $100 or more, but less than $750, the offender commits petit theft of the first degree, punishable as a misdemeanor of the first degree.” A person can be sentenced to up to one year in jail for a misdemeanor of the first degree. The fines can be up to $1,000.
    • Petit theft of the second degree. If the property stolen is worth less than $100, the offender commits petit theft of the second degree, punishable as a misdemeanor of the second degree. A person can be sentenced to up to 60 days in jail for a misdemeanor of the second degree. The fines can be up to $500.
  • Grand Theft.
    • Grand theft in the first degree. This crime is a felony of the first degree and can result in punishment to up to 30 years. The offense applies:
      • “If the property stolen is valued at $100,000 or more or is a semitrailer that was deployed by a law enforcement officer; or
      • If the property stolen is cargo valued at $50,000 or more that has entered the stream of interstate or intrastate commerce from the shipper’s loading platform to the consignee’s receiving dock; or
      • If the offender commits any grand theft and:
        • In the course of committing the offense, the offender uses a motor vehicle as an instrumentality, other than merely as a getaway vehicle, to assist in committing the offense and thereby damages the real property of another; or
        • In the course of committing the offense, the offender causes damage to the real or personal property of another in excess of $1,000.”
    • Grand theft in the second degree. This crime is a felony of the second degree which can result in imprisonment of up to 15 years in jail. The crime includes:
      • Stolen property valued at $20,000 or more, but less than $100,000.
      • “Cargo valued at less than $50,000 that has entered the stream of interstate or intrastate commerce from the shipper’s loading platform to the consignee’s receiving dock”
      • Certain values of emergency medical equipment or law enforcement property.
      • Other types of property identified in the statute.
    • Grand theft in the third degree. This crime is a felony of the third degree which can result in imprisonment up to five years in jail. The crime includes:
      • Theft of property valued at between $750 and $20,000. The classified is generally subdivided into property between $750 and $5000, $5000 to $10,000, and $10,000 to $20,000.
      • Property valued between $100 and $750 – if taken from someone’s home.
      • Wills
      • Firearms
      • Motor vehicles
      • Other types of property such as property taken from a construction site, any amount of citrus fruit consisting of 2,000 or more individual pieces of fruit, stop signs, any amount of a controlled substance, and other property;.

What conditions can increase the penalties for theft in Florida?

Some of the factors that can increase theft penalties include:

  • Habitual felony offenders
  • Repeat petty thefts
  • Having a prior criminal record.
  • Crimes where the victim is 65 or older.

Shoplifting in Florida

Theft from a retail establishment is generally classified as theft according to the classifications set forth above.  Retail theft, as defined by Florida law:

“Means the taking possession of or carrying away of merchandise, property, money, or negotiable documents; altering or removing a label, universal product code, or price tag; transferring merchandise from one container to another; or removing a shopping cart, with intent to deprive the merchant of possession, use, benefit, or full retail value.”

Repeat retail theft offenders can be ordered to pay fines or perform community service.

Defenses to theft crimes

Experienced Vero Beach and Sebastian theft defense lawyers assert the following defenses, among others:

  • The value of the products or services is less than the prosecution claims.
  • The defendant’s Constitutional rights were violated.
  • The defendant had a right to the property.
  • A lack of knowledge or intent.
  • The prosecution cannot prove its criminal charges beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • Other defenses depending on the facts of your case.

At Lulich & Attorneys, our Vero Beach and Sebastian criminal defense lawyers have been fighting for criminal defendants for 35 years. We have a strong record of defending criminal charges, obtaining acquittals, and negotiating plea bargains. To discuss your defenses, call us at 772-589-5500 or fill out our contact form.