Throughout human history, whenever and wherever a system of law has been established, stealing is made illegal. The rule seems simple enough – you cannot take what is not yours – but in the modern era, there are many ways to steal and a variety of laws to deter and punish stealing. What are those laws in Florida? If you are accused of stealing in this state, where can you turn? Even if you’re an honest Floridian, keep reading, because anyone can be falsely accused.
Larceny is called “theft” in Florida. Theft, burglary, and robbery are three distinct crimes in this state, but any of the three can send someone who is convicted to jail or prison – in some cases, possibly for life. If you are accused of committing any theft, burglary, or robbery crime in the state of Florida, it is imperative for you to arrange to be represented by an experienced Stuart criminal defense attorney.
HOW IS THEFT PENALIZED IN FLORIDA?
A theft in Florida is categorized as a grand theft, which is a felony, or as a “petit” or petty theft, which is a misdemeanor. How any particular crime of theft is charged by a Florida prosecutor will depend on the type and value of the property that was stolen as well as the suspect’s criminal history and the details of the crime itself.
Spelled out here are the theft charges – and the penalties – in the state of Florida:
Second-degree petty theft is the charge when the property stolen is valued at less than $100. A conviction is punishable with a 60-day jail term and a fine of up to $500.
First-degree petty theft is the charge when the property stolen is valued from $100 to $299. A conviction is punishable with a one-year jail term and a fine of up to $1,000.
Third-degree grand theft is charged when the property stolen is valued at $300 to $19,999 or was a motor vehicle, firearm, fire extinguisher, commercial farm animal, a quantity of fruit numbering 2,000 or more pieces, a stop sign or construction sign, or anhydrous ammonia. A conviction is punishable with a 5-year prison term and a $5,000 fine.
Second-degree grand theft is the charge when the property stolen is valued from $20,000 to $99,999. A conviction is punishable with a 15-year prison term and a fine of up to $10,000.
First-degree grand theft is the charge when the property stolen is valued at or above $100,000. A conviction is punishable with a 30-year prison term and a fine of up to $10,000.
Additionally, according to experienced Stuart criminal defense attorney Jordan R. Wagner, “People should know multiple petit thefts will result in a felony, and your driver’s license can be suspended as well for a theft conviction.”
Stuart criminal defense attorney Barbara Kibbey Wagner explains that theft “is a crime of dishonesty, and can be used against you if you testify in the future in any matter. Also, that if you are with someone that steals, you as well can be charged. Now, the Treasure Coast is prosecuting the crimes of theft from unlawful taking of public aid (food stamps and Medicaid, government-funded childcare, etc.).”
“Finally,” adds defense attorney Barbara Kibbey Wagner, any immigrant in Florida who is convicted of any crime of theft faces quite severe “immigration consequences including deportation if you have a withhold or adjudication of guilt on a theft case as it is a crime of dishonesty.”
HOW IS BURGLARY DEFINED IN FLORIDA?
In 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, 143,220 burglaries were reported in the state of Florida. The FBI tells us that in an average year, one in every 36 homes in the United States will be burglarized. About 30 percent of all burglars enter through open or unlocked windows or doors.
“Entering a dwelling, a structure, or a conveyance with the intent to commit an offense therein” is the definition of burglary in the state of Florida. “Breaking” when entering – or actually committing a crime after entering a dwelling, a structure, or a conveyance – is not necessary for a suspect to be guilty of burglary.
Unauthorized entry with the intent to commit a crime constitutes burglary in Florida. If someone enters a store that is open to the public and steals an item, it’s theft, but if the same suspect breaks into the store when it’s closed and takes the same item (or hides inside until the store is closed and unoccupied), the entry is unauthorized, so the crime is burglary.
Burglary is prosecuted as a first-degree felony in Florida if the defendant allegedly:
– damaged the burglarized dwelling, structure, or conveyance with a motor vehicle
– inflicted over $1,000 of damage to the burglarized dwelling, structure, or conveyance
– committed battery or assault in the course of the burglary
– used a deadly weapon in the course of the burglary
HOW IS BURGLARY PENALIZED IN FLORIDA?
If no assault or battery was committed in the course of the burglary, and if no deadly weapon was used, the burglary will probably be prosecuted as a second-degree felony, except that the burglary of an unoccupied vehicle or building is usually charged as a third-degree felony. These are the burglary charges – all felonies – and the penalties for a burglary conviction in Florida:
A third-degree burglary conviction is punishable with a 5-year prison term and a fine of up to $5,000.
A second-degree burglary conviction is punishable with a 15-year prison term and a fine of up to $10,000.
A first-degree burglary conviction can send the offender – in some cases – to prison for life in the state of Florida, along with a fine of up to $10,000.
HOW IS ROBBERY DEFINED IN FLORIDA?
Because robbers steal by plausibly threatening or actually using force – and endangering the public – every robbery in Florida is a felony. Robbery is the intentional taking of property or money from another person without that person’s consent by using violence, force, coercion, threat, or intimidation. There are only two robbery charges in Florida.
If a weapon is allegedly displayed or used in a robbery, the charge is first-degree robbery, and a conviction can send the offender to prison for life. A second-degree robbery conviction is punishable with a 15-year prison term and a $10,000 fine. However, carjackings and home-invasion robberies are prosecuted as first-degree felonies in Florida without regard to whether or not a weapon was allegedly used in the course of the crime.
HOW CAN A DEFENSE ATTORNEY HELP?
Before anyone can be convicted of theft, burglary, or robbery in Florida, the state must prove that defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If you are charged with any of these crimes, contact an experienced Stuart criminal defense attorney who will protect your rights and advocate aggressively for justice on your behalf.
After any criminal arrest, make the call to a defense lawyer as quickly as possible, and do not try to be your own attorney. Criminal law in the 21st century is too complicated, and the consequences of a conviction are too severe, to put your future, your family, or your freedom at risk. Instead, let an experienced criminal defense attorney put the law to work for you.