What is the Difference between Grand and Petit Theft in Florida?

December 14, 2020 Theft/Property Crimes

theft arrest

Theft crimes often carry significant penalties under Florida law. These crimes are charged either as petit theft (petty theft) and grand theft.  The main differentiation is the amount of property that is taken. Petit theft is very often charged in shoplifting cases, due to the lower dollar amount. Shoplifting can also fall under grand theft though; the only key factor is the value of property. Both charges require the state to prove the underlining elements of theft. If you or a loved one have been charged with a theft crime, contacting an experienced theft defense attorney in Tallahassee is recommended.

Theft Crimes in Florida

Theft is defined by Florida Statues § 812.014(1), “[a] person commits theft if he or she knowingly obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or to use, the property of another with intent to, either temporarily or permanently: [d]eprive the other person of a right to the property or a benefit from the property; or, [a]ppropriate the property to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to the use of the property.”

This means that accidentally grabbing the wrong bag or walking out of the store with a pack of soda on the bottom of the cart will not satisfy the requirements for a theft conviction in Florida courts (although people have been charged on less). Alternatively, taking an item on purpose, even for a minute, can result in such a conviction.

Petit vs. Grand Theft in Florida

Petit theft is defined by Florida Statutes § 812.014(2)(e)-(3)(c). When the property that is taken is worth less than $750, petit theft is the appropriate charge. The level of offense is based further on the amount that has been taken, and any prior offenses.

Petit theft is a second-degree misdemeanor if the property is worth under $100. This charge is elevated to a first-degree misdemeanor if the value is over $100 or the accused has a previous theft conviction. Unfortunately, Florida law allows for the charge to carry the penalties and stigma associated with a third-degree felony if there are two previous theft convictions on the record of the accused.

If the value of the property is higher than $750, the government can instead pursue charges of Grand Theft. Grand theft can carry substantially higher penalties based on the circumstances. 

If the property alleged to have been taken is less than $20,000, the charges will be a third-degree felony. This penalty increases to a second-degree felony in some specific circumstances, but always when the value is between $20,000 and $100,000. When a person is accused of taking over $100,000 the accusations rise to a first-degree felony.

Penalties for Theft Crime Convictions

The penalties for these crimes if a conviction enters are:

  • Second Degree Misdemeanor
    • Maximum 60 days of jail, 6 months of probation, and $500 fine
  • First Degree Misdemeanor
    • Maximum 1 year of jail, 1 year of probation, and $1,000 fine
  • Third Degree Felony
    • Maximum 5 years of prison, 5 years of probation, and $5,000 fine
  • Second Degree Felony
    • Maximum 15 years of prison, 15 years of probation, and $10,000 fine
  • First Degree Felony
    • Maximum 30 years of prison, 30 years of probation, and $10,000 fine

Theft Crime Defense Attorney Near Me

Theft accusations in Florida can alter a person’s life forever based on the result of the criminal case. Contact a Tallahassee theft lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your options. Don Pumphrey and the members of the legal team at Pumphrey Law Firm have decades of experience representing people who have been accused of theft crimes. There are often legal defenses or strategies which can result in lenient plea offers, dismissals, or not guilty verdicts. The Tallahassee criminal defense attorneys in the Pumphrey Law legal team will fight for your rights and make sure that you receive the best possible results based on the facts of your case. Call a Criminal Defense Attorney today at (850) 681-7777 or send an online message today to discuss your rights during an open and free consultation with a defense attorney in our legal team.

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