Florida Property and Theft Defense Attorneys
The lawyers of Dimond Kaplan & Rothstein, P.A., located in West Palm Beach, FL, provide criminal defense for those facing property or theft charges.
It is not uncommon for people to confuse the terms theft, robbery and burglary. But there are important legal distinctions between those charges.
What is Theft?
Florida statutes distinguish theft as petit theft or grand theft. Depending on which type of theft you are charged with, the state will prosecute the offense as a misdemeanor or a felony. And whether charged as petit or grand theft depends on the value of the property.
Florida state law reads:
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:
(a) Deprive the other person of a right to the property or a benefit from the property.
(b) Appropriate the property to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to the use of the property.
Thus, according to Florida law, theft involves the unauthorized taking or use of another person’s property. Crimes that come under the legal heading of theft include larceny, stealing, misappropriation of funds, etc.
In order to be charged with the crime of theft, it must be established that the alleged defendant had criminal intent at the time he or she took, or attempted to take, the property of another and that he or she also intended to deprive the owner of possession or use of the property either temporarily or permanently.
The precise charges are usually related to the value of the property taken. The lowest level theft offense in Florida is called “petit theft.” If the stolen property is valued at less than $100, the crime is classified as petit theft of the second degree. Stolen property that is valued between $100 and $300 is classified as petit theft of the first degree. Both charges are misdemeanors. A second degree misdemeanor can be punished with imprisonment for up to 60 days and a fine of up to $500. A first degree misdemeanor conviction can result in a sentence of up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000.
In addition, if the defendant has a prior conviction for petit theft of the second degree, the state may prosecute a new offense as a first degree misdemeanor. If he or she has two or more prior convictions for petit theft, the state may charge a subsequent offense as a third degree felony. In such a case, the potential term of imprisonment may be up to five years and the fine up to $5,000.
Theft of property valued at more than $300 is classified as “grand theft” and is considered a felony under Florida law. Grand theft in the third degree is charged when the value of the stolen property is between $300 and $20,000. Grand theft in the second degree is charged when the value of the stolen property is between $20,000 and $100,000. Property valued over $100,000 will result in a charge of grand theft in the first degree. (In addition, the state of Florida is required to charge grand theft in the first degree for any crime in which a motor vehicle is used during the commission of the crime, other than its use as a getaway car.)
As stated, a third degree felony theft charge carries a potential prison term of up to five years and a fine of up to $5,000. A second degree felony theft charge carries a potential prison term of up to 15 years and fine of up to $10,000. Grand theft in the first degree carries a potential prison term of up to 30 years and a fine up to $10,000. In addition, if in the course of committing the offense the offender causes damage to the real or personal property of another in excess of $1,000, he or she can be charged with a first degree felony.
Contact an aggressive, experienced criminal defense lawyer that is experienced with petit and grand theft charges in West Palm Beach
If you have questions regarding theft charges, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free consultation so we can review your case. We are happy to meet or speak with you anytime. Our legal team is experienced, aggressive, compassionate, and will fight for your rights!