Florida law defines “larceny” (theft) as the unauthorized taking or use of any property that belongs to another. Theft can be accomplished through the employment of false pretenses, fraud, deception or the physical removal of the property from a place or person – for example, shoplifting – without the owner’s consent. It does not, however, involve the use of violence or the threat of violence against the owner or custodian of the stolen property.
In order to obtain a conviction for theft, the prosecution must prove that the defendant had the specific intent to take or use the other person’s property, even if only temporarily.
Florida state laws distinguish between petit (sometimes called “petty”) theft, a misdemeanor, and grand theft, which is a felony. Most often, the choice of which to charge depends on the value of the stolen property. Petty theft involves property with a value of under $300. If the stolen property has a value of less than $100, however, the maximum charge possible is second degree petit larceny. Even this relatively minor offense, however, carries a potential sentence of sixty days in jail, six months’ probation, or a fine of up to $500.Theft of property valued at more than $300 constitutes grand larceny. If the value was between $300 and $20,000, the appropriate charge is grand theft in the third degree. If the property was worth between $20,000 and $100,000, the charge can increase to grand theft in the second degree. Theft of property valued at more than $100,000 constitutes grand theft in the first degree.
In addition, however, a defendant may be charged with first degree grand theft in two other situations involving property with a value under $100,000:
He or she used a motor vehicle during the commission of the crime (other than as a means of escape).
There was more than $1,000 in damage to real or personal property as a result of the theft.
Potential Defenses to Theft Charges: If you or a family member have been charged with theft, it is important to understand your rights and possible defenses to the charges. These may include:
- An honest and good faith belief of ownership or right to possess the property;
- Consent given by the property owner;
- Involuntary intoxication; and
- Entrapment is generally not available as a defense under Florida law, unless the police acted in a way that would have induced participation by an ordinary, law-abiding person.
Whether the charge is petty or grand theft, in addition to possible incarceration, fines and a permanent criminal record, a conviction can have serious consequences, including:
- Loss of employment or future promotions;
- Driver’s license suspension;
- Loss of college scholarships;
- Loss or denial of certain professional or occupational licenses;
- Inability to be bonded; and
- Restitution, if the property cannot be returned.
The attorneys at Orner Law, LLC have successfully defended many South Florida residents facing theft charges. We are committed to delivering the highly personalized, aggressive representation you need. In some instances, especially in the case of a first offense, having an experienced and knowledgeable attorney on your side can help resolve the charges without permanent damage to your life and reputation. We have offices conveniently located in Boca Raton, and Fort Lauderdale. Don’t wait –call us today to schedule an initial consultation.