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The Florida Bar


Theft is defined as a person knowingly using, obtaining, or attempting to use or obtain another person’s property. The person’s intentions is to either temporarily or permanently deprive the other person from the right to the property or benefit accruing from the property, and/or, appropriate the property for his or her own use, or to the use of any person who is not entitled to use the property. Florida law determines the severity of the crime, by categorizing theft according to the value of property stolen. If the value of property stolen is more than $1,000.00 it is considered Grand Theft Anything stolen worth less than this amount is considered Petit Theft. Grand theft is a felony charge whereby the degree is based on the fair market value of the goods stolen.

Shoplifting or Petit-Theft

Stealing property valued at between $100 and $1,000 is petit theft in most cases, as is stealing property valued at less than $100 if you have previously been convicted of theft. Second-degree petit theft occurs when the property is valued at less than $100 and is punishable by no more than sixty days in jail in addition to penalties such as a fine.

Third Degree Grand Theft

Grand theft is considered third degree felony offense when the stolen property is valued to be more than $1,000 but less $20,000, or the stolen property is a motor vehicle, firearm, testamentary instrument, or a will. This charge carries penalty of up to 5 years imprisonment according to theft lawyers in Broward County.  As  with most third-degree felonies up to five years probation and up to a $5,000 may be included in a sentence for conviction as long as  the sentence does not exceed the statutory minimum under Florida law.

Second Degree Grand Theft

Grand theft is considered second-degree felony offense when the stolen property is valued to be more than $20,000 but less than $100,000, the shipping cargo is worth less than $50,000 or the stolen property is emergency medical equipment that is worth more than $300. Upon conviction the accused can get up to 15 years jail time, 15 years’ probation, up to $10,000 fine, or any combination of these penalties.

First Degree Grand Theft

Grand theft is considered a first-degree felony when the stolen property is valued to be more than $100,000. The law also allows prosecution under first-degree felony when the accused has caused more than $1,000 worth of property damage while committing the theft. If the accused is convicted the penalty can be maximum prison term of 30 years, minimum jail time of 21 months, thirty years’ probation, and/or fine up to $10,000.

Even though the law states that when the stolen property is valued at less than $300, it is a petit theft, the law also makes certain exceptions. These exceptions qualify as felony grand thefts, which mean the accused will be facing felony charges even when the value of such property is less than $300. The items in this list include:

  • Firearms
  • Testamentary instruments and Wills
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Commercial animals
  • Property taken from posted construction site
  • 2,000 citrus fruits or more
  • Property taken from a residence or dwelling
  • Defenses to Allegations of Theft

It can be argued that the accused believed in good faith that he or she owned the property or had the right to use the property. Another defense can be the owner giving consent to the accused to use the property. Lastly, it can also be argued that the accused was in an intoxicated state involuntarily, and did not know what he or she was doing. The defense lawyer can also evaluate whether the evidence was legally obtained and police investigation was legally carried out.

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