A theft conviction can have life-changing and even catastrophic consequences: you may be ordered to pay restitution, subjected to fines, or sent to jail. However, Florida does not treat all acts of theft the same. Instead, our state uses a predetermined legal formula to decide how an accused person should be charged.
The Degrees of Theft in Florida
Under Florida law, a person commits theft if they knowingly use, obtain, or attempt to obtain another person’s property with the intent to:
- Deprive that person of their property
- Convert the property for unauthorized use
Theft is a serious offense, no matter where or how it is committed. However, Florida can present different charges against an accused person depending on the value of the item or items they stole, as well as the circumstances and nature of the crime.
In general, people accused of theft in Florida may be charged with petit theft or grand theft.
Petit theft charges may be leveled in:
- The Second Degree: A person is guilty of petit theft in the second degree if they steal property valued at less than $100. A conviction may carry a sentence of up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
- The First Degree: A person is guilty of petit theft in the first degree if they steal property valued at more than $100 but less than $750. A person convicted of this first-degree misdemeanor faces up to one year’s imprisonment as well as a $1,000 fine.
Any theft resulting in more than $750 in losses can be charged as felony grand theft. Similar to petit theft, grand theft comes in different degrees, depending on the nature of the crime and value of stolen goods:
- The Third Degree: Theft of more than $750 but less than $20,000. However, the theft of certain items, such as firearms, can be prosecuted as grand theft in the third degree, regardless of the value of the stolen item.
- The Second Degree: Theft of more than $20,000 but less than $100,000. However, prosecutors may still bring charges if a lower-value theft occurred under very certain circumstances. The theft of between $5,000 and $20,000 worth of property during a state of emergency can be charged as grand theft in the second degree, as can the theft of inter- or intrastate cargo valued at less than $50,000.
- The First Degree: Theft of more than $100,000. However, the theft of valuable cargo, specified law enforcement vehicles, or a theft that causes damage to real or personal property can be considered grand theft in the first degree.
All grand theft offenses are prosecuted as felonies, with potential penalties ranging from five years in jail for grand theft in the third degree to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for grand theft in the first degree.
Have You Been Arrested For a Robbery or Theft in Florida?
If you've been arrested for robbery or theft in Fort Walton Beach, call Flaherty & Merrifield at (850) 243-6097 for a free, confidential case review.