In a broad definition, a theft crime consists of knowingly and intentionally stealing or taking a person’s property without their permission. The punishments for these unlawful acts depend upon the amount and the value of the property stolen. As a result, if you have been accused of stealing, you should consult a St. Petersburg theft lawyer.
Despite how small or insignificant a theft might seem, these offenses should not be taken lightly since they can damage your criminal record and reputation. Additionally, if convicted, a defendant can face severe penalties that can include imprisonment and fines.
Florida Definition of Theft
The Florida Statute § 812.014 establishes that a person commits theft if he/she knowingly and illegally takes another person’s property with the intention to:
- Deprive the victim of using or benefiting from that property.
- Appropriate that item for the accused’s or other person’s use.
If you are convicted for theft, your charges could range from a second-degree misdemeanor to a first-degree felony.
Being arrested for theft does not mean that you have been convicted. To be convicted for theft, the prosecutor needs to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you either stole or had the intention to appropriate the victim’s property permanently or temporarily.
It is important to note that theft is a broad term that encompasses a wide range of crimes. In other words, there are many types of theft in Florida such as petit theft, grand theft, white-collar offenses, robbery, and burglary, among others.
When being accused of theft or larceny in Florida, your charges and the possible penalties depend upon the amount of property or money taken as well as circumstances and aggravating factors such as the use of force and the existence of previous offenses.
Although Florida has its own penalties for theft charges, an offense might be pursued as a federal crime if it is an interstate case, involves large-scale schemes, or affects a federal department such as the U.S. Postal Service, IRS, or Medicaid.
A theft charge can result in stiff penalties and a criminal record that can negatively impact your life. Thus if you have been accused of theft or larceny, you should seek an experienced St. Petersburg theft lawyer that will fight for your rights and future. Speak to the Goldman Wetzel legal team for more information.
Types of theft
There are different types of theft in Florida. Some of the most common theft crimes that Goldman Wetzel represent include:
- Petit theft: in Florida, petit or petty theft is the crime of stealing or attempting to steal property that is valued at less than $750. An example of petty theft is shoplifting.
- Grand theft: a larceny offense can be classified as grand theft depending on different factors such as the type of property stolen, amount stolen, or if the property was taken from a dwelling. An offense might be considered grand theft if it involves stolen property valued at $300 – $100,000 or more.
- Robbery: robbery is a more violent form of theft. Florida defines robbery as taking someone’s money or property using force, violence, or threats of violence.
- Burglary: a burglary charge means that the defendant broke in or illegally entered a house, business, or other structure with the intent to commit a crime (such as theft or robbery).
- White-collar crimes: white-collar crimes are non-violent offenses. Some of these crimes include theft by false pretenses such as fraud, credit card fraud, forgery, counterfeit, and embezzlement.
- Identity theft: as its name suggests, identity theft is the crime of stealing or assuming someone’s identity for the purpose of obtaining a gain or performing a wrongful activity.
Being charged with a theft offense in Florida and dealing with the criminal justice system is a challenging process. Our St. Petersburg theft lawyers are experienced, skilled, and dedicated to fight for your rights and protect your record. Book a free consultation with the Goldman Wetzel attorneys.
Penalties & Charges for Theft in Florida
In Florida, the penalties and charges associated with a theft offense depend upon several factors, including the amount of property taken. The charges for theft charge can range from a second-degree misdemeanor to a felony in the first-degree. This could result in imprisonment of 60 days up to 30 years and fines ranging from $500 to $10,000.
A petit theft can be charged as a second-degree misdemeanor if the property stolen was worth less than $100. However, if the value ranges from $100 to $750, the defendant can face a first-degree misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 1 year imprisonment and a $1,000 fine.
When does theft become a felony in Florida?
According to Florida Statute § 812.014, petty theft can escalate to a third-degree felony if the defendant has been previously convicted for two or more theft offenses. Under this statute, grand theft crimes (stolen property that ranges from $300 – $100,000 or more) are also classified as felonies.
In Florida, due to the use or threat of violence, robbery offenses can be either charged as a second-degree or first-degree felony. If convicted for a second-degree felony, an offender will face up to 15 years of prison and up to $10,000 fine. A first-degree felony can result in 30 years imprisonment and a maximum $10,000 fine.
In addition to imprisonment and fines, the alleged offender could also face other penalties such as probation, community service, restitution and counseling. Given that the penalties for theft are quite harsh, you should retain the help of a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Contact Goldman Wetzel today to start building your defense.
Theft Statute of Limitations in Florida
Under Florida law, the prosecution for theft crimes must begin within 5 years.
Defenses for a Theft Charge in Pinellas County
Given that a theft charge carries a prison sentence and fines, consider getting a defense lawyer on your side. When it comes to larceny charges, attorneys Summer Goldman and Maribeth Wetzel can use one of the following defenses:
- Lack of intent: if possible, our criminal attorneys will present evidence that proves that you had no intention to commit theft and that the incident was either a misunderstanding or an honest mistake.
- Alibi: if you were wrongly accused, Goldman Wetzel will build your defense to convince the prosecutor that you were not the person that committed the crime. In order to do this, we can present evidence that proves that you were elsewhere at the time the theft occurred
- Right to ownership of the property: in some cases, a defense to beat theft charges is to prove that the alleged offender took the property because he or she honestly believed that they had a right to that property.
Preparing an effective and aggressive defense depends upon the specific details of your case. In order to find more accurate information, you should speak to a Pinellas criminal defense attorney.
Contact a St. Petersburg Theft Lawyer
No matter the value of property stolen, an accusation for theft in Pinellas County can negatively affect your life. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to have a strong team fighting to protect your record and rights.
Goldman Wetzel is a criminal defense law firm in Pinellas County. Summer Goldman and Maribeth Wetzel represent clients facing criminal charges in St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, Tampa, Bradenton, Clearwater, Sarasota and surrounding areas.
If you have been accused of theft in Florida, retain legal representation as soon as possible. Speak to our St. Petersburg theft lawyers and start working on your case. Contact us via email form or call us at (727) 828-3900 to schedule a free consultation.