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Theft and Property Crimes

Tallahassee Theft attorney

Theft and property crimes are committed when a person knowingly takes or uses the property belonging to someone else with the intent to keep the property for their own use. The state of Florida uses the term “theft” to categorize a variety of criminal offenses such as petit and grand theft, along with shoplifting. Property crimes include offenses like burglary, arson, and criminal mischief.

Offenders who allegedly commit theft and property crimes often think the offenses are “petty.” However, it’s important to establish that these types of crimes can lead to severe punishments and jail time. They can even serve as a roadblock toward future and current employment opportunities.

Due to the variety of charges a defendant can face for theft and property crimes, it is in your best interest to work with a qualified defense attorney. A lawyer with Pumphrey Law can help explain the charges against you and help navigate through the legal complexities during this difficult process.

This page will provide information on the different types of theft and property crimes in Florida, along with their resulting penalties and possible defense strategies.

Tallahassee Theft Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with theft or a property crime in Leon County, an experienced Tallahassee criminal attorney can analyze the facts of your case and search for any mitigating circumstances to reduce the charges or have them dropped altogether.

To schedule a free and confidential consultation to go over the specifics of your case with the legal team, call (850) 681-7777 or contact us online. Pumphrey Law Firm proudly represents clients accused of theft and property crimes throughout the Florida Panhandle, including Fort Walton Beach, DeFuniak Springs, Panama City, Tallahassee, Madison, Vernon, Mayo, and others.

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Florida Theft and Property Crimes Information Center

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Florida Statute Chapter 812

Florida Statute Chapter 812 covers all theft, robbery, and other property-related crimes. The following lists some of the most common criminal offenses associated with theft and property crimes:

For the remainder of this page, we’ll break down the varying theft and property criminal offenses, their resulting penalties, and defenses to fight to get the charges lessened or dismissed.

Florida Theft Offenses

Florida theft offenses are outlined in Florida Statute Section 812.014. When a person is accused of theft, it implies that they knowingly obtained or used the property of another with the intent to deprive the owner of the right temporarily or permanently to such property or appropriate the property to his or her own use.

Theft crimes are assigned a charge based on the circumstances specific to that case. For example, the charge would be determined based on the value and type of property stolen. A person accused of theft in Florida will either face a charge of petit theft or grand theft.

  • Petit theft is assigned for minor theft offenses and is often charged when the value of the stolen item or property is of lower value. Florida Statute Section 812.014(2)(e) defines petit theft as property stolen that is valued at or above $100, but less than $750.

Depending on the value of the stolen item(s), petit theft is either charged as a misdemeanor of the first or second-degree. Often for items valued up to $100, petit theft is considered a second-degree misdemeanor. If the offense involves between $100 and $750, it may be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor.

  • Grand theft is assigned for more serious theft offenses when the value of stolen items or property is of higher value. Florida Statute Section 812.014(2)(c) defines grand theft as property stolen that is valued at or above $750. A defendant may also be charged with grand theft if a certain type of property was involved or when aggravating circumstances such as the use of a motor vehicle are present.

Depending on the value of the stolen item(s) and circumstances of the offense, grand theft can be charged as a third-, second-, or first-degree felony. Simple grand theft is a third-degree felony and involves theft of property with a value of $750 to $20,000. The crime can be a second-degree felony if the value is between $20,000 and $100,000, and it can be a first-degree felony if it is more than $100,000.

Another form of theft is shoplifting. Also referred to as “retail theft,” the crime is outlined under Florida Statute Section 812.015(d) as when a person takes possession of merchandise, property, money, or negotiable documents, or alters or removes a label, universal product code, or price tag. It can also include the transferring of merchandise from one container to another or removing a shopping cart. To convict a person of retail theft, the State must prove the defendant had the intent to deprive the owner or merchant of possession, use, benefit, or full retail value. Depending on the circumstances of the offense, retail theft can be charged as either a third- or second-degree felony.

An additional form of theft is dealing in stolen property. According to Florida Statute Section 812.019, a person can face this charge for knowingly participating in trafficking property they knew was stolen or if they are accused of organizing the trafficking of stolen property. Depending on the specific involvement the defendant had in dealing in the stolen property, the offense can be charged as either a second- or first-degree felony as well.

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Property Crimes in Florida

A property crime is defined as an intentional act where a victim(s) property is stolen or destroyed without the owner’s consent, and typically without the use or threat of force. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) includes arson, burglary, and criminal mischief as property crimes. The severity of a property crime depends on the value taken or damaged and several other factors.

  • Arson is a property crime defined under Florida Statute Section 806.01 as the intentional damaging of any building by fire or an explosion. Depending on the type of building damaged or destroyed by the arson act, the crime can be charged as a second- or first-degree felony.
  • Burglary is a property crime defined under Florida Statute Section 810.02 as the entering or remaining in a structure, dwelling, or conveyance with the intent to commit a criminal offense inside. However, this does not include instances where the premises were open to the public at the time the offense occurred, if the defendant is licensed to enter or remain in such area, or if the defendant was invited inside. Important: If the permission to remain was withdrawn and the defendant remained anyways to commit an offense, he or she may be guilty of burglary. Depending on the circumstances of the incident, burglary can be charged as a third-, second-, or first-degree felony. The possession of burglary tools is also a form of burglary in Florida.
  • Another form of property crime is vandalism, referred to in Florida as criminal mischief. Florida Statute Section 806.13 defines the offense as when a person willfully and maliciously damages property belonging to someone else. Anyone accused of vandalism or graffiti can be charged with criminal mischief. This type of crime is a common juvenile offense. Depending on the circumstances of the offense, criminal mischief can be charged as a second- or first-degree misdemeanor, or as a third-degree felony.

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Criminal Penalties for Theft and Property Crimes in Florida

As mentioned above, penalties for theft and property crimes will typically depend on the circumstances of the alleged offense, and based on the value of the property or item that was stolen or destroyed.

The following provides the varying fines and penalties for different degree of offenses in Florida:

  • Second-degree misdemeanor: Conviction carries up to a $500 fine and up to sixty days in jail.
  • First-degree misdemeanor: Conviction carries up to a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail.
  • Third-degree felony: Conviction carries up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.
  • Second-degree felony: Conviction carries up to a $10,000 fine and up to fifteen years in prison.
  • First-degree felony: Conviction carries up to a $10,000 fine and up to thirty years in prison.

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Other Possible Repercussions for Theft Crimes

It’s important to address the other possible repercussions for committing theft and property crimes in Florida:

  • Fingerprint Requirement – Pursuant to Florida Statute Section 943.051, the state of Florida requires anyone convicted of a petit theft crime to have their fingerprints taken in court and having their name be entered into a national database for employers to view during background checks.
  • Suspension of driver’s license – Pursuant to Florida Statute Section 812.0155, an offender who is adjudicated guilty of any theft misdemeanors can have their driver’s license suspended by court order for a period of six months or up to one year. If someone has previously been convicted of the offense, then the court must suspend the convicted person’s license.
  • Supplemental Fines – Pursuant to Florida Statute Section 812.032, an offender who is found guilty of a theft offense that has either derived anything of value, caused personal injury, property damage, or other loss may be sentenced by the court to pay a supplemental fine in addition to the statute-specific penalties for the offense. The supplemental fine can be valued up to double the gross value of the property, plus the costs of investigation and prosecution. A defendant facing supplemental fines must attend a court hearing to be informed of the determined amount of fine to be imposed.
  • Civil Remedies – Pursuant to Florida Statute Section 812.035 and Section 772.11, offenders convicted of theft or exploitation can face civil remedies to be paid to the victims. Anyone who proves by clear and convincing evidence that he or she has been a victim of theft or shoplifting is entitled to pursue civil remedies, under this statute.

If you are confused about the charges against you and their resulting penalties, contact an experienced defense attorney in Tallahassee.

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Defenses to Theft and Property Crimes

Even if you have already been charged with a theft or property crime in Florida, the good news is that there may be defenses applicable to your case. Your best shot at fighting the charges against you and clearing your name is by working with an experienced theft and property crimes attorney near you. The lawyers with Pumphrey Law Firm can help determine if any of the following defenses can apply to your case:

  • The defendant had good faith belief of ownership or the right to possess the item or property;
  • The defendant was given consent by the property owner to possess or take the item or property; and/or
  • The defendant lacked the intent to commit a crime after entering the structure or building.

Contact our firm for a free case evaluation to start working on a defense strategy for your case.

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Finding A Tallahassee Property Crime Defense Attorneys

If you have been charged with a theft or property crime in Leon County, contact the skilled criminal defense attorneys at Pumphrey Law to discuss the facts of your case. An experienced lawyer in Tallahassee may be able to establish a defense strategy or apply exceptions to Florida laws to get your charge dismissed or reduced. Call (850) 681-7777 to schedule a free consultation about your alleged theft or property crime.


Page last updated December 13, 2023

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