Many factors can lead to a person resorting to theft: desperation, peer pressure, fear, poverty, and other circumstances that make someone believe he or she has no other choice. However, it takes more than simply explaining your motivations or innocence to persuade prosecutors to drop charges or lower penalties. In order for your case and argument to be taken seriously, you need a reputable and aggressive defense lawyer on your side. If you are charged with any form of theft, you face serious charges that can lead to extended prison time and heavy fines, both of which can have a permanent negative effect on your personal and professional life. At Musca Law, we will defend your rights and work diligently on your behalf.
What Crimes are Classified as Theft
According to Florida Statute 812.014, theft occurs when a person “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.”
Under this definition, there are many crimes that fit under the category of theft including carjacking, credit card theft, fraud, shoplifting, larceny, identity theft, and many other crimes that include such actions. Each of these crimes have specific penalties that can be applied and are prosecuted accordingly, but as they are all crimes of theft, they inherently rest on the provisions set up by Florida’s laws concerning theft, specifically, punishments relating to the value of what has been stolen.
Petit Theft vs. Grand Theft
Under Florida law, theft is separated into two categories with their own possible punishments: petit theft and grand theft. Petit theft is the taking of property valued at less than $300. Being convicted of petit theft can result in up to one year in jail. Grand theft in Florida begins at the monetary value of $300, anything worth this much or more is considered grand theft and is prosecuted as a felony.
A person may be charged with grand theft if the value of the property is less than $300 and includes a wide range of property such as a will, codicil, or other testamentary instrument; a firearm; a motor vehicle; any commercially farmed animal; any fire extinguisher; any amount of citrus fruit consisting of 2,000 or more individual pieces of fruit; any stop sign; anhydrous ammonia; and any amount of a controlled substance. In addition, theft of $100 or more during a burglary is a grand theft charge.
With these points in mind, the taking of property valued at more than $300 but less than $20,000 is grand theft in the third degree, the least of all grand theft charges and punishable by no more than five years and/or up to $5,000 in fines. Second degree grand theft is levied against theft of property valued between $20,000 and $100,000 or emergency medical equipment valued at more than $300, and can be punished by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Finally, first degree grand theft involves property valued at or greater than $100,000, which is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Additionally, dealing in stolen property is a felony. As defined by Statute 812.019, trafficking in or attempting to traffic in, “property that he or she knows or should know was stolen” is a second degree felony while initiating, planning, organizing, directing, or otherwise supervising theft or trafficking stolen property is a first degree felony.
Ramifications of a Theft Conviction
Prison time and fines can create an immediate burden on not only a defendant, but on his or her dependants who lose not only financial stability but the love and companionship the defendant provided. Even after serving out a prison sentence and paying off all fines, the stigma of being convicted of theft and the criminal record one has can make finding gainful employment incredibly difficult. Additionally, the years spent in prison and being convicted of a crime can permanently damage a person’s relationships with friends and family.
Defense You Can Rely On
Charges of theft of any type will be met with strict prosecution that aims to sentence defendants to the greatest penalties possible. As such, if you are facing such charges, you need experienced legal defense to guard you against harsh punishments. At Musca Law, our Florida criminal offense attorneys have years of success defending clients against all manner of theft charges and can apply their skills and resources to your case. For more information about how we can help defend you, call us today at (800) 687-2252.
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