Grand theft is a felony-level crime in the State of Florida. This blog entry does not deal with grand theft auto, which is a separate crime. This entry deals only with the offense of grand theft, a theft crime where the degree of severity (and possible penalties) are related to the value of the allegedly stolen item.
Posted By Eric Matheny
Theft is committed when somebody intentionally takes the property of another. Since theft is an intentional act, the offender must know that the property does not belong to them, and must have the intent of taking it, either permanently or temporarily.
Petit theft is a misdemeanor, and entails a theft of less than $300 worth of currency or property. Grand theft, even at its lowest level, is always a felony.
Here is the breakdown for degrees of grand theft based on the value of the property taken:
1) $300 - $20,000: Grand Theft 3rd Degree, maximum penalty 5 years in prison.
2) $20,000 - $100,000: Grand Theft 2nd Degree, maximum penalty 15 years in prison.
3) $100,000 or more: Grand Theft 1st Degree, maximum penalty 30 years in prison.
Pretrial Intervention (PTI) is sometimes available for grand theft 3rd degree cases, provided the alleged victim agrees. For most retail grand theft 3rd degree charges (shoplifting cases), PTI is usually available for first-time offenders.
For grand theft 2nd degree and grand theft 1st degree cases, PTI is usually not an option due to the high level of restitution. In order to be accepted into PTI, the program requires that restitution be less than $5,000.00. There are exceptions, however. Please contact me to discuss these exceptions.
Grand theft can be a charge in and of itself, or it can accompany more serious charges, such as burglary of an unoccupied dwelling if it is alleged that the stolen property came from inside of a home.
Sometimes, theft crimes are actually more serious charges than simply "grand theft."
Theft involves the taking of property without force. If it is alleged that the property was taken by force, the charge will be robbery.
There are many options and many defenses available to clients charged with grand theft. Aside from actual innocence (where the client did not take the property), there is the element of knowledge. If the client did not know that the property belonged to someone else, or if the client was unaware that they were in possession of it, they cannot be found guilty of grand theft.
This situation is more common than you think. Imagine, a busy mother is shopping with her children. She places items in her shopping cart and goes to the register with the intent of paying for all items. Maybe an item doesn't get scanned, or maybe an item fell to the bottom of the cart, or maybe the busy mother inadvertently placed the item inside of another shopping bag. Mistakes happen. But in order to be found guilty of grand theft, you must intend to steal. Mistakes mean misunderstandings, but in a retail setting (Macy's, Sear's, Best Buy, etc...) misunderstandings mean being taken into a back office by store security and having the police called.
Felony charges are open to the public. Anybody can go online, enter somebody's name and date of birth, and if that person has pending charges, that information will be available. Felony charges ruin careers, and can ruin lives if they go uncontested. Fight your charges! Don't let a misunderstanding or mistake cost you what you've worked so hard for. Additionally, make sure that your South Florida theft attorney includes the possibility of sealing or expunging your criminal record in their representation. I always do. If you are eligible to have your record sealed or expunged, your criminal defense attorney will make sure that when your case is over, your criminal record will be erased.
Call me today to schedule a free in-person consultation, or to discuss your matter over the phone.