Florida Grand Theft Laws
Grand theft charges can be difficult to understand and can carry serious penalties. If you are facing grand theft charges in Florida, contact Musca Law’s experienced criminal defense attorneys. We have extensive experience with petit and grand theft cases, and we know what it takes to achieve the best possible outcomes for our clients.
Florida’s Definition of Grand Theft
Florida does not have one concrete definition of grand theft because the crime varies by the type of property at issue and the value of that property. A “theft” in Florida, as defined in Florida Statute § 812.014, is the obtainment or use of someone else’s property or the attempt to obtain or use someone else’s property with the intent of depriving the owner of its benefit or appropriating it to himself or herself or to another person who is not entitled to use the property.
Depending on the piece of property and the monetary value of the property, the crime of theft might be charged as petit theft or grand theft. In general, grand theft includes property valued at $750 or more. However, certain kinds of property of lesser value can also fall under grand theft, as discussed in further detail below.
The value of the stolen property will be determined through an examination of several factors. The value will be calculated from the time of the theft and will take into account use, condition, purchase price, and depreciation (or appreciation). Replacement cost for the property can also be presented as evidence of its value. Proof of the purchase price alone is not enough to place a value on stolen property.
Requirement of Specific Intent
The crime of grand theft requires proof of specific intent. It is not enough to prove that the defendant took someone else’s property. The prosecution needs to establish that the defendant took the property with the specific intent of depriving the owner of his or her rights to the property. The jury can infer intent, but the prosecution needs to present enough evidence for the jury to make that inference.
Penalties for Grand Theft in Florida
Grand theft is a felony in Florida. The level of felony charged will depend on the property alleged to have been stolen.
- Third-Degree Felony – A third-degree felony in Florida can carry a punishment of up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Grand theft will be charged as a third-degree felony in Florida if the stolen property is:
- Valued at $750 or more but less than $20,000;
- A testamentary instrument, such as a will or codicil;
- A firearm;
- A motor vehicle;
- A commercially farmed animal (carries the possibility of a $10,000 fine, instead of a $5,000 fine);
- A fire extinguisher, except where the fire extinguisher is stolen merchandise from a store;
- Citrus fruit in quantities of 2,000 pieces or more;
- Any item from a designated construction site with appropriate signage;
- A stop sign;
- Anhydrous ammonia; or
- A controlled substance.
Grand theft can also be charged in the third degree if the property is valued between $100 and $750 and was taken from a dwelling.
- Second-Degree Felony – A second-degree felony in Florida can carry a punishment of up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Grand theft will be charged as a second-degree felony in Florida if the stolen property is:
- Valued at $20,000 or more but less than $100,000;
- Cargo in inter- or intrastate commerce valued at less than $50,000;
- Emergency medical equipment from a licensed facility, aircraft, or vehicle valued at $300 or more; or
- Law enforcement equipment from an authorized emergency vehicle valued at $300 or more.
- First-Degree Felony – A first-degree felony for grand theft in Florida can carry a punishment of up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Grand theft will be charged as a first-degree felony in Florida if the stolen property is:
- Valued at $100,000 or more;
- A semi-trailer deployed by law enforcement; or
- Cargo in inter- or intrastate commerce valued at $50,000 or more.
Grand theft can also be charged in the first degree if the defendant is also accused of using a motor vehicle in a way that damages someone else’s real property or is accused of damaging someone else’s real or personal property in excess of $1,000.
Defenses to Florida Grand Theft Charges
Certain defenses can be raised during the course of grand theft proceedings, the availability of which will depend on the circumstances of each case. Some potential defenses to this crime in Florida include:
- Lack of intent – Because Florida’s law on grand theft requires intent, it is a defense to the crime to argue that the defendant had no intent to steal the property at issue.
- Equal ownership – If the defendant is an equal owner of the property, he or she cannot be convicted of grand theft.
- Property without value – If the property at issue was discarded, it presumably does not have value to the owner. A person cannot be convicted of grand theft for taking something that does not have value.
- Good faith belief – The defendant might have had a good faith belief that he or she had the right to take the property or dispose of the property.
- Permission of the owner – The defendant might have believed he or she had the owner’s permission to take or use the property.
- Necessity or duress – In some situations, the defendant could have been under duress or taken the property out of necessity, and this can be used as a defense.
You and your attorney will work together to build the defense most appropriate for your case. Musca Law has the experience and skills you need when facing grand theft charges in Florida, and we can guide you through every step of the proceedings.
Contact Musca Law for a Free Case Consultation
Contact Musca Law today for a free case consultation with a knowledgeable Florida defense attorney. You can reach our office to schedule your consultation by calling (888) 484-5057.