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Grand Theft

Tallahassee Theft attorney

Florida has strict consequences for those who are accused of stealing from others. Theft crimes range in severity, and at the top of the hierarchy stands grand theft. Unlike the lesser theft crime of petit theft, grand theft is the more severe form and will result in facing a felony charge. 

Getting convicted of grand theft can result in substantial penalties including significant fines, probation, imprisonment, or all the above. It is important to have a full understanding of the charges against you and their consequences. When confronted with a grand theft charge, the most effective way to combat a conviction is by working with a skilled defense attorney.

Tallahassee Grand Theft Lawyer

If you have been charged with a grand theft offense in Tallahassee or the surrounding area, the Grand Theft defense attorneys at Pumphrey Law Firm will stand up for your rights and help you clear your name. Our legal team will review every aspect of your case, checking for any misstep or hole in the prosecution’s case. Our goal is to get your charges reduced or dismissed. Call (850) 681-7777 today to schedule a free consultation.

Pumphrey Law Firm is proud to represent clients throughout the Florida Panhandle, including Tallahassee, Fort Walton Beach, DeFuniak Springs, Panama City, Madison, Vernon, Mayo, or any other nearby location.

What is Theft?

The criminal offense of theft is defined under Florida Statute Section 812.014 as when an individual knowingly obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or use, the property of another person with the intent to:

  1. Temporarily or permanently deprive the other person from their right to the property or any benefits gained from it; or
  2. Temporarily or permanently appropriate the property to his or her own use, or to the use of any person not entitled to the item or property.

In Florida, theft crimes are broken down into two categories: petit theft and grand theft.

The primary differing factor between petit theft and grand theft comes from the value of the item or property stolen. In other words, a defendant can be charged with petit theft for any stolen item or property valued over $100 but less than $750. Grand theft is the charge a defendant will face for a stolen item or property valued over $750.

Grand Theft Defined in Tallahassee

Also codified under Florida Statute Section 812.014, the offense of grand theft occurs when a person is accused of stealing an item or property valued over $750. The theft of certain items, including firearms or motor vehicles, can result in grand theft charges even if the value of those items would normally fall beneath the $750 threshold. Additionally, a person may be charged with grand theft for any stolen property belonging to law enforcement or emergency medical equipment that was valued over $300.

The following lists example scenarios of grand theft crimes:

  • A person goes on a shoplifting spree, stealing high-end electronics and clothing accumulating in a total value of $15,000;
  • An individual commits grand theft auto by stealing a luxury car from a dealership valued at $50,000;
  • Two individuals commit an ATM theft by using heavy machinery to steal an ATM containing $50,000 in cash;
  • A group of individuals steals construction equipment, including bulldozers and excavators, with a combined value of $100,000;
  • An art thief takes high-end art from a museum valued at $150,000; or
  • Two people break into a jewelry store and steal a collection of valuable jewelry worth $200,000.

Grand theft is the more severe form of a theft charge. Due to the severity of the crime, grand theft is considered a felony offense. If convicted, a defendant may face imprisonment between 5 to 30 years. Additional penalties may include paying restitution, completing community service, or completing probation.

Elements of Grand Theft

According to the Florida Bar Criminal Jury Instructions, the State must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt to secure a conviction of grand theft:

  1. The defendant knowingly and unlawfully took or used another person’s possession or property;
  2. The defendant did so without the owner’s permission;
  3. During the commission of theft, the defendant had the intent to deprive the owner of their possession or property temporarily or permanently; and
  4. The possession or property stolen by the defendant was either valued over $750, was law enforcement or medical equipment valued over $300, or falls under one of the categories of items which result in an automatic elevation to a grand theft charge.

Proving the Value of Stolen Property

To secure a grand theft conviction, the case prosecutor must generally prove that the stolen item or property was valued at or over $750. Anything under that value may be reclassified as the lower offense of petit theft. The following lists evidence that may be used to prove the stolen property’s value:

  • Original purchase price: While the original price may not be sufficient to determine the property’s value, it can be used to determine how much the stolen property or item was worth at the time it was allegedly stolen.
  • Market value: The current market value of the stolen item or property can help discern the value of the item or property.
  • Replacement costs: In instances where the market value of the stolen item cannot be determined, then the State may consider the cost of a replacement.

Penalties for Tallahassee Grand Theft Charges

Any type of grand theft offense will be charged as a felony. However, the exact penalties for a grand theft conviction will vary depending on the specific case details and circumstances, as well as the value of the stolen property. A defendant accused of grand theft can be charged with grand theft in the third, second, or first degree.

  • Grand Theft in the Third Degree– A defendant faces a third-degree felony for grand theft if the possession or property allegedly stolen was valued between $750 and $20,000, or if it included any of the following:
  • A will or codicil;
  • A firearm;
  • Any motor vehicle;
  • Any commercial farm animal, like a cow, horse, or pig;
  • A fire extinguisher;
  • 2,000 or more pieces of citrus fruit;
  • A sign from a construction site;
  • A stop sign;
  • Anhydrous ammonia (commonly used in fertilizer); or
  • Any amount of any controlled substance.

Important: A defendant may also be charged with a third-degree felony for grand theft if the property stolen was valued at $100 or more, but less than $750, and was taken from a dwelling or the unenclosed curtilage of a dwelling (the area surrounding the dwelling such as a porch, yard, etc.).

A conviction for a for a third-degree felony in Florida carries up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

  • Grand Theft in the Second Degree –A defendant faces a second-degree felony for grand theft if the possession or property allegedly stolen was valued between $20,000 and $100,000, or if it included any of the following:
  • Cargo entering interstate or intrastate commerce worth less than $50,000;
  • Emergency medical equipment valued over $300 that was taken from a licensed facility, aircraft, or vehicle; or
  • Law enforcement equipment worth more than $750 taken from an authorized emergency vehicle.

A conviction for a second-degree felony in Florida carries up to a $10,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison.

  • Grand Theft in the First Degree – A defendant faces a first-degree felony for grand theft if the possession or property allegedly stolen was valued over $100,000, or if it included any of the following:
  • A semitrailer that was deployed by a law enforcement officer;
  • Cargo entering interstate or intrastate commerce worth $50,000 or more; or
  • Property worth $750 or more and, in the course of committing the offense, the offender:
    • used a motor vehicle to damage property, or
    • damaged more than $1,000 worth of another’s property.

A conviction for a first-degree felony in Florida carries up to a $10,000 fine and up to 30 years in prison.

In addition to the statutory penalties, a grand theft conviction can cause long-term complications to your personal and professional life. Getting convicted of grand theft is a major red flag to potential employers, especially in a field where you are trusted with anything valuable — cash, equipment, or otherwise. Even after you have finished serving a sentence for grand theft, it may be extremely difficult to find any job.

These are serious penalties. Do not be caught unprepared with your defense. A criminal defense attorney in Tallahassee can help you fight the charges.

Enhanced Penalties for Theft Against 65+

Under Florida Statute Section 812.0145, it is unlawful to commit a theft crime against any person 65 years-old or older. Florida law provides that a defendant who commits theft against an elderly person, when they knew or had reason to believe that the victim was 65 years of age or older, the theft offense shall be reclassified as follows:

  • Funds, assets, or property valued over $300 but less than $10,000 = reclassified as a Third-degree felony
  • Funds, assets, or property valued over $10,000 but less than $50,000 = reclassified as a Second-degree felony
  • Funds, assets, or property valued at $50,000 or more = reclassified as aFirst-degree felony

Important: A defendant convicted of grand theft of more than $1,000 from a person 65 years-old or older will be required to pay restitution to the victim, as well as work up to 500 hours of community service. The amount of restitution and community service is in addition to any fines or imprisonment caused by the grand theft conviction.

Defenses to Grand Theft

The law on grand theft is broader than most think, meaning there’s room for accidents and misunderstandings which could potentially lead to false accusations. For instance, if you were to lease expensive electronics and you miss a demand letter to return it, it could lead to a grand theft charge as you are using property lawfully belonging to another with the intent to deprive them of their own use of that property, even if such intent was not necessarily malicious.

It’s important to establish that even if you have already been arrested and charged with grand theft, it does not mean you are immediately guilty. By hiring an experienced defense attorney, you can discuss whether any of the following defenses are applicable to your case:

  • Lack of intent – One of the elements needed to convict a person of theft is the intent to deprive the owner of their possession or property. If the defendant had good faith belief that they did not intend to deprive the owner or appropriate their property, lack of intent may be used as a defense.
  • Mere presence – If the defendant had mere knowledge of a theft offense being committed or was merely present at the scene where a theft crime had just occurred, this may be established as a defense strategy.
  • Consent – If the defendant obtained or used property for a lawful purpose, or they believed the owner had consented to them using or taking their property, it may be used as a defense to fight a theft charge.
  • Equal ownership – If the defendant and alleged victim had equal ownership of the stolen item or property, the defendant cannot be convicted of grand theft. For instance, if the allegedly stolen item was a vehicle registered in the names of both the defendant and his ex-wife, he may have a valid equal ownership defense.

As each case will vary in its specific details, it’s highly advisable to speak with a knowledgeable Tallahassee defense attorney to discuss your options for defense.

Pumphrey Law | Tallahassee Grand Theft Attorney

Facing a grand theft charge in Florida can be overwhelming, so securing the right defense attorney is crucial. A grand theft conviction can lead to expensive fines and lengthy imprisonment. Don’t navigate the legal intricacies alone—you’ll want an experienced and trustworthy attorney on your side to advocate on your behalf.

If you are charged with Grand Theft in Leon, Gadsden or Wakulla County, a grand theft lawyer with Pumphrey Law Firm can help you. Our attorneys will seek to get your charges reduced or dismissed. Don Pumphrey and his team bring a wealth of strategic expertise, along with a relentless commitment to safeguarding your rights.

Call Pumphrey Law Firm today at (850) 681-7777 to set up a free consultation regarding your grand theft charge.


Page Updated January 10, 2024

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