Simplifying Florida's Theft Crime Laws
When you intentionally take something from someone else with the intent of depriving them of that object without agreeing to such an arrangement, you could be charged with the crime of theft. When it comes to the many various type of crimes, theft is perhaps the most expansive, covering a wide range of different actions that are given a multitude of different names. If you’ve been arrested and charged with a theft crime, you might be confused as to the actual nature of your charges. After all, with a crime that can be perpetrated in so many different ways, the penalties have to be equally varied to match.
To help you get a better understanding of the different types of theft and how they’re charged, here is a brief breakdown of the various different types of theft crimes in Florida.
Often called “petty theft” by mistake, petit theft is the name given to lower level simple theft offenses, such as shoplifting, robbery, or burglary. There are two different degrees of petit theft, which are defined based on the value of the property stolen during the crime. Petit theft in the second degree is charged when the property stolen is valued at $100 or less. This crime is considered a misdemeanor, and is penalized by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Petit theft in the first degree is when the value of the property stolen exceeds $100 but is less than $300. These are still considered misdemeanor offenses, but have a potential for up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, if you have ever been convicted of two previous theft offenses, you could be charged with a third-degree felony. Even if both offenses were for property less than $10, any two convictions could cause a third charge to be escalated to this more serious level.
Grand theft is the formal name for theft crimes that can essentially be dubbed “felony theft.” These are actions which result in significant financial losses, and as a result carry much heavier penalties. The lightest charge, Grand Theft in the Third Degree, can be penalized by up to five years in a state prison and a fine of up to $5,000 as a third-degree felony charge. The overwhelming majority of theft crime charges fall into this category, as they contain all theft valued at more than $300, but less than $20,000.
Grand Theft in the Second Degree, as you might expect, is a second degree felony where the property stolen is valued at more than $20,000, but less than $100,000, so also a broad range. These charges can carry up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Grand Theft in the First Degree is the grand-daddy of them all, being charged as a first-degree felony and carrying up to 30 years in prison in the state of Florida. The maximum fine is the same as a second-degree charge, up to $10,000, but you’re far more likely to be ordered to pay closer to the maximum as a result of first-degree charges than you would be with a second degree crime.
Accepting or Selling Stolen Property
If you know property has been stolen, whether it’s money or any other type, it’s against the law to receive it. Whether you accept it without remuneration, take control over it to pass it to someone else, or wish to re-sell the property in order to profit, you are breaking the law. Florida Statutes Section 812.019 makes it a second-degree felony to traffic property that you know is stolen.
Fraud is an extremely broad category in and of itself, and if we’re being honest, we could write another blog as detailed as this one on just the many various types of fraud there are. Things like intentionally using a bad check to pay for property, knowingly using counterfeit money to pay for something, or misrepresenting yourself in an attempt to defraud someone of their property, are all considered fraud crimes and could subject those accused to lengthy prison sentences and large fines.
Burglary is a specific type of theft in which the perpetrator “surreptitiously [enters]… a dwelling, structure, or conveyance with the intent to commit an offense (other than trespass) inside of the dwelling, structure, or conveyance at the time when the defendant is not licensed or invited to enter or remain…” (Florida State Statute Section 810.02). In other words, entering someone’s home with the intent of stealing something is considered burglary. However, unlike the other theft crimes we’ve mentioned here, this could still be charged, even if you don’t take anything; merely proving intent is enough to warrant a conviction.
Robbery is the act of using force or the threat of force to commit a theft crime. In other words, threatening someone with violence or through coercion in order to force them to hand over their valuables. However, in many cases this intimidation or threat is performed with the aid of a weapon, such as a gun, knife, or blunt instrument. In these instances, the weapon is known as an “aggravating factor,” which means you could face even harsher penalties because of it.If you are accused of a theft crime of any type, trust your case to the experienced Miami criminal defense attorney as Hagar & Schwartz, P.A.! Call us at (305) 330-1360 to request a case evaluation.