Theft can be a serious charge no matter where you are. Whether you’re in Okaloosa County, Florida, or anywhere else throughout the world, being charged with theft is something that you don’t want on your record. In Florida, there are two different kinds of theft that you can be charged with: petit theft and grand theft. Obviously, petty theft is the lesser crime in this case, but that doesn’t mean you should go around stealing things. Both types of theft have consequences that most people will not want to face.
The Basics of Theft
At its core, a criminal charge of theft in the state of Florida is something that involves the unauthorized taking a property by any number of means. In fact, Florida statutes state the following means of taking property has valid definitions of theft:
For someone to be convicted of theft, certain elements have to be present at the time of the offense. For instance, the intent of the defendant to steal property from another person needs to be proved by the prosecutor in a court of law. There are several defenses to theft including involuntary inebriation, consent to take the property by the property’s owner, and a basic understanding of one’s right to have the property. So, if someone is arrested for theft in Okaloosa County but they genuinely thought they had a right to the property or the property owner gave them consent, then they would have a chance at defending themselves with a proper Okaloosa County criminal defense lawyer.
Difference between Petit and Grand Theft
In the state of Florida, the difference between the lesser petit theft and the more severe grand theft is all about the value of the property. Petit theft is generally described as any theft of property that is valued under $300. Anything valued at $300 or more is considered grand theft. Of course, there are different levels of petit and grand theft that you may want to take into account.
Petit theft is classified as a misdemeanor penalty. In most cases, it is a second-degree misdemeanor that carries with it a maximum 60-day prison sentence and a $500 fine. If the defendant has a previous conviction for petit theft, then the penalty can be classified as a first-degree misdemeanor. In this case, a 1-year jail term and a $1,000 fine are possible.
Grand theft is a felony penalty, and, again, the severity of the penalty is dependent on the value of the property stolen. The following table indicates what type of felony charge goes with the value of the property stolen:
- Third-degree felony: $300 to $20,000
- Second-degree felony: $20,000 to $100,000
- First-degree felony: over $100,000
Certain factors can also come into play that might increase even a third-degree felony to a first-degree felony. If the defendant causes more than $1,000 of property damage in the commission of the crime, then the state can prosecute the case as a first-degree felony charge. If convicted, the defendant can face the following penalties:
- Third-degree: 5 years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine
- Second-degree: 15 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine
- First-degree: 30 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine
These are the maximum penalties, but having proper legal representation can help ensure that you don’t incur the full force of these penalties.
Mark Bryant is an attorney in Okaloosa County, Florida. He practices criminal defense for all crimes, specializing in felony cases.