Understanding Grand Theft

What makes a theft grand in Florida? As with all thefts, the value of the thing taken determines whether or not it is grand, rather than the manner in which it is taken. Of course, there is more to grand theft than the value of the article or item that is stolen. We break it down here:

1) The elements of grand theft. In addition to the value of the item or items taken, the law also requires that the prosecution show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended to not only deprive another of the right or benefit to the property but also then appropriated the property for their own use and enjoyment.

2) The degrees of grand theft. The law recognizes that it is not fair to treat a theft of $300 the same as theft over $100,000. Thus, the Florida statutes recognize varying degrees of grand theft that each cover larger and larger amounts of theft. Of course, each degree comes with its own level of offense severity under the Criminal Punishment Code of Florida.

Starting at the lower end of the scale, Third Degree grand theft applies if the property taken is worth between $300 and less than $20,000, is a firearm, is a will or other testament, or is a motor vehicle. Second Degree grand theft applies when the property taken is valued between $20,000 and less than $100,000, is shipping cargo with a value of less than $50,000, or is an item of emergency medical equipment that is valued at more than $300.  First Degree grand theft, the highest level possible under Florida law, covers property that is worth more than $100,000 or shipping cargo that is valued at $50,000 or more.

3) The degrees of punishment. Just as first, second, and third degree grand theft cover greater or lesser valued amounts that are stolen, the punishments prescribed by Florida law for the different degrees vary. A conviction or guilty plea of third degree grand theft means that the judge has the option to impose any or a combination of: jail time up to five years, probation of up to five years, and/or a fine of $5,000 or less.  A conviction or guilty plea for second degree grand theft gives the judge the choice of imposing up to 15 years in prison, probation of up to 15 years, and/or a fine of $10,000 or less. A first degree grand theft conviction or plea gives the judge the option of imposing jail time of no less than 21 months up to 30 years in prison, 30 years of probation, and/or a fine of $10,000 or less.

If the threshold value for grand theft in Florida is $300, what does that mean for thefts that are below this figure? Those thefts are treated as a “petit theft” and are considered misdemeanors. Again, there must be the intent to deprive the owner of the right to or benefit from the property at issue, but the dividing line is really the value of the item. As a misdemeanor, petit theft also differs from grand theft in the scope of consequences. Punishments for this misdemeanor range from 60 days in jail to suspension of a driver’s license. Suspension of the driver’s license is mandated for second offense petit theft.

If you are facing charges of either grand theft or petit theft, do yourself a favor and reach out to the attorneys at Weisberg, Kainen, Mark who can efficiently handle your issue and advise you of your rights. Your driving privileges or even freedom could be on the line so make the call to (305) 374-5544 today.

Written by Weisberg Kainen Mark, PL

Weisberg Kainen Mark, PL

Weisberg Kainen Mark, PL is a Miami-based law firm focused on providing comprehensive legal support to individuals and corporate entities caught up in tax controversies or charged with a criminal act. As experienced trial lawyers with a passion for justice, our firm provides clients with compelling advocacy, attorney availability, and creative solutions to your tax or criminal law matters.