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What is the difference between misdemeanor and felony theft in Florida?

In the United States, there is no uniform national threshold for crimes involving theft. Each state has a different threshold value for determining the severity of a theft charge. If you are arrested and charged with theft in the state of Florida, the degree of your charge can vary depending on several factors. It's important to understand the thresholds of theft degrees in order to understand the severity of the sentence you are eligible to receive if convicted of the crime.

What is theft?

Theft can mean a variety of property crimes. You may hear terms such as larceny, stealing, or robbery as ways to describe theft crimes.

In order to prove that theft occurred, the prosecution in a case must show that there was an unauthorized taking or use of another's person's property by the defendant, and that there was criminal intent to take or use that property. It must be proven that the defendant intended to temporarily or permanently deprive the owner of that property.

Felony or Misdemeanor Theft Charge?

Florida's threshold for felony theft is only $300. This means that if you are convicted of stealing property worth $300 or more, you are eligible for prison time and additional punishments that come with a felony conviction.

Grand or Petty Theft?

Grand theft has three degrees, ranging from first degree grand theft, which is the stealing of property valued at $100,000 or more, second degree, $20,000-$99,999 in property value, to third degree grand theft, which is property valued at $300-$19,999.

To be charged with petty theft, the property is valued at under $299. However, if you are convicted of petty theft twice, your charge can be elevated to a third degree felony theft charge.

Possible Defenses for Theft Charges

There are potential defenses to a theft charge. These include: a good faith belief that you actually owned the property; consent by the owner to take the property; or involuntary intoxication.

If you are arrested and charged with a property crime, such as theft, it's vitally important that you contact a criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will work with you to understand the type of charges against you, and determine the best course of defense for the crime.

References:

Florida Theft Laws. (n.d.). Retrieved November 15, 2017, from http://statelaws.findlaw.com/florida-law/florida-theft-laws.html

Bruce Bennett/The Palm Beach Post, via Newscom. (2017, November 15). Whats the Punishment for Theft? Depends On What State Youre In. Retrieved November 15, 2017, from https://www.themarshallproject.org/2017/08/09/what-s-the-punishment-for-theft-depends-on-what-state-you-re-in

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