"Grand" means "big." When it comes to theft charges, that's not a good thing. Grand theft is a very serious charge, with very serious implications. If you have a grand theft conviction on your record, that can be a big disadvantage when applying for employment or housing.
Don't let that happen. You can fight the charges, but your best bet is to not do it alone. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you build your defense.
Tallahassee Grand Theft Lawyer
If you've been charged with grand theft in Tallahassee or the surrounding area, the grand theft defense attorneys at Pumphrey Law will stand up for your rights and help you fight the charges. Our legal team will look at every aspect of your case, checking for every misstep or hole in the prosecution's case to get your charges reduced or dismissed. Call (850) 681-7777 today to schedule a free consultation.
The Pumphrey Law is proud to serve clients throughout the Florida Panhandle, including Tallahassee, Fort Walton Beach, DeFuniak Springs, Panama City, Madison, Vernon, Mayo or any other nearby location.
How Grand Theft is Defined in Tallahassee
Theft, as defined in Florida state law, means that the person charged "knowingly obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or to use" another's property, to permanently or temporarily deprive that person of the right to or benefit of that property for his or her use, or for the use of someone else not entitled to the property. Whether something is grand theft or petit theft usually depends on the value of the property allegedly stolen.
Anytime the value of the property allegedly stolen is more than $300, the state may charge you with grand theft. If it's one of many items specified by law, it doesn't matter whether the value is greater than $300 — the charge will be grand theft. Those items include:
- A will or codicil
- A firearm.
- Any motor vehicle.
- Any commercially farmed 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).
- Any amount of any controlled substance.
If accused of stealing any of these items, you can be charged with grand theft in the third degree. Third-degree grand theft is least severe grand theft charge, but is still a felony. Any property valued $300 or more but less than $20,000 is also grand theft in the third degree.
The charge for stealing any property valued at $20,000 or more but less than $100,000 is grand theft in the second degree. This charge also applies if the item allegedly stolen was cargo worth less than $50,000 or emergency medical equipment or law enforcement equipment worth more than $300.
Grand theft in the first degree is reserved for what the Florida legislature has determined to be the most serious of theft charges. This is for any property worth $100,000 or more, or any cargo worth $50,000 or more. If the alleged theft is for property worth $300 or more and either a motor vehicle was used or, in the process of committing the alleged act, the accused damaged more than $1,000 worth of property.
Penalties for Tallahassee Grand Theft
Grand theft is a serious charge with serious penalties. The severity depends on the degree to which you are charged. All grand theft charges are felonies. The degree of felony depends on the degree of grand theft — a first-degree theft charge is a first-degree felony, second-degree theft is a second-degree felony, and a third-degree theft a third-degree felony.
All come with the potential of significant prison time. For a third degree felony, you could be looking at up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. For a second degree felony, it's up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. And for any first-degree felony, the sentence could be up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
These consequences are very serious, but it won't be the end. If convicted, the court takes your fingerprints and fixes the judgment to them, and those become part of the public record. That document can be used against you in any future proceeding. That may be the least of your worries when it comes to the public record. A grand theft conviction is a major red flag to potential employers. Once you finish serving your time, it may be extremely difficult to find any job where you are trusted with anything valuable — cash, equipment or otherwise. It may be difficult to find any kind of job, period. Employers are wary of anyone with a felony conviction on their record.
These are serious penalties. Don't be caught unprepared with your defense. A criminal defense attorney can help you fight the charges.
Tallahassee Defenses to Grand Theft
The law for grand theft is broader than many people think. It requires the intent to deprive, permanently or temporarily. This leaves a lot of room for accidents and misunderstanding, which can lead to false accusations. For instance, if you were to lease expensive electronics or other property, and you miss a demand letter to return it, it could lead to a grand theft charge.
The prosecution has to prove all elements of grand theft, including intent, "beyond a reasonable doubt." This means prosecutors are responsible for making the case to jurors that no other scenarios, save some far-fetched or highly improbable ones, could have led to the events they describe. The accused never has to prove anything, unless making an affirmative defense, like insanity. It can be difficult, in many cases, to prove intent, especially if there was a mistake or a misunderstanding.
Proving "beyond a reasonable doubt" is a tough chore for Tallahassee prosecutors, but they've proven their ability to do just that. You could avoid a lot of heartaches if you're prepared with the proper defense. A grand theft lawyer on your side could find the weaknesses in the prosecution's case and make the difference between a criminal record and a clean record.
Pumphrey Law | Tallahassee Grand Theft Attorney
Grand theft is a major charge, with severe consequences. If you're charged with grand theft in Leon, Gadsden or Wakulla County, an experienced grand theft lawyer can defend you. Our attorneys will seek to get your charges reduced or dismissed, and if you plead "not guilty," they will fight the prosecution in court. Call the Pumphrey Law today at (850) 681-7777 to set up a free consultation to talk about your grand theft charge.
Article last updated October 24, 2016.
Attorney Don Pumphrey Jr. is a former prosecutor, former law enforcement officer, and a successful and experienced criminal defense attorney.