What is theft? It can be anything from taking a pack of gum from CVS to embezzling millions of dollars from a corporation. In any respect, theft crimes constitute a large number of the felonies and misdemeanors filed in both the Circuit and County Courts in Miami-Dade and Broward County. As a miami criminal attorney, I have handled and currently handle many theft-related cases. When I was an Assistant State Attorney in the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, I handled theft cases on a daily basis.
In plain English, a theft occurs when someone intentionally temporarily or permanently deprives another of their property. Notice the word intent is in bold print and underlined. Theft is an intentional act, which means that the accused must possess the knowledge that the property belongs to another.
In Florida, theft can be divided into misdemeanor theft and felony theft. Misdemeanor theft is called petit theft, and usually consists of the taking of an item from a store or retail establishment. There are two degrees of petit theft: 1st degree and 2nd degree. 2nd degree petit theft is charged when the item taken is less than $100 in value, and the accused has no prior petit theft convictions. 1st degree petit theft is charged when the item has a value greater than $300, or if the accused has a prior conviction for petit theft. 2nd degree petit theft carries a maximum of 60 days in jail, whereas 1st degree petit theft carries 1 year.
Grand theft is also broken up into categories based on the value of the item, or items, taken. grand theft in the 3rd degree is when the value of the property is greater than $300, but less than $20,000. It is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Grand theft in the 2nd degree occurs when the value of the property is over $20,000, but less than $100,000. This offense is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Grand theft in the 1st degree is when the value of the item taken is over $100,000. This is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
In Miami-Dade County, theft-related crimes are some of the most commonly charged offenses, but that doesn't mean that the State Attorney's Office doesn't take them seriously. Where there is an alleged theft, there is an alleged victim, who may be demanding hundreds, if not thousands, or dollars in restitution, or the court-ordered repayment by the defendant for the value of the property stolen. Since the State Attorney is an elected official, they typically like to appease alleged victims. For that reason, the input of an alleged victim is one of the biggest factors in determining what type of resolution a prosecutor is willing to negotiate.
I have been in that position before when I was an ASA, but I also know that a dilligent defense attorney can expose huge weaknesses and loopholes in the State's case. When that occurs, the outcome is almost always favorable for the accused.
If you or someone you know is charged with a theft crime, call me today. Let me use my experience as a prosecutor and my skill as a defense attorney to assist you or your loved one.