Theft

There are several crimes under the theft classification. Each one of these crimes has its own elements. In addition, these crimes are different in their level meaning that some are misdemeanor while others are felonies in nature.

Petit Theft

Under Florida Statute 812.014(2)(e), the crime of Petit Theft is defined as the unlawful taking of property worth less than $750.

To prove the crime of Petit Theft, the State must prove the accused took another person’s property with the intent to deprive the person of a right or benefit of the property;

or took the property for personal use or the use of another person not privileged or entitled to the use of the property.

Penalties for Petit Theft

The amount in question is what determines the level of Petit Theft; it can be of the second degree or the first degree.

Petit Theft of the Second Degree

If the value of the property taken is worth less than $100, the crime is considered Petit Theft of the Second Degree.

If a jury finds you guilty of Petit Theft of the Second Degree, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • Six (6) months in jail,
  • Six (6) months of probation, or
  • A fine of up to a $500.

Petit Theft of the First Degree

It is considered Petit Theft of the First Degree if:

  • The value of the property taken is worth less than $750, but more than $100; or
  • You have a prior theft conviction.

If convicted of Petit Theft of the First Degree, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • One year in jail,
  • One year of probation, or
  • A fine of up to a $1,000.

Implication: Suspension of your Driver’s License

If you are adjudicated guilty of Petit Theft, your driver license can be suspended up to:

  • Six months upon a first conviction.
  • One (1) year for each subsequent conviction.

Grand Theft

Pursuant to Florida Statute 812.014(2)(c), the crime of Grand Theft is committed when a person unlawfully takes another person’s property that is worth $750 or more.

To prove the crime of Grand Theft, the State must prove property worth more than $750 was taken from another person with intent. In addition the State must also prove that such intent was the intent to:

  • Deprive the person of a right to the property or benefit of the property; or
  • Appropriate the property for personal use or for the use of another person not entitled to the use of the property.

Penalties for Grand Theft

There are three degrees of Grand Theft in Florida. The degree of the crime and the corresponding penalties increase based on the value of the property taken.

The three degrees of Grand Theft in Florida are: First, Second, and Third Degree.

Grand Theft of the Third Degree

Grand Theft of the Third Degree is committed if the property taken is:

  • worth less than $20,000, but more than $750;
  • a controlled substance;
  • a firearm;
  • a motor vehicle;
  • a will, codicil, or other testamentary instrument; or
  • anything of value stolen by a hotel or restaurant employee in the course of their employment. 

Grand Theft of the Third Degree is a Third Degree Felony.

If convicted of Grand Theft of the Third Degree, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • A maximum sentence of five (5) years in prison,
  • Five (5) years of probation, or
  • A fine up to $5,000.

Grand Theft of the Second Degree

Grand Theft of the Second Degree is committed if the property taken:

  • Is worth less than $100,000, but more than $20,000.
  • Is shipping cargo worth less than $50,000.
  • Is emergency medical equipment worth more than $300.

Grand Theft of the Second Degree is a Second Degree Felony.

If convicted of Grand Theft of the Second Degree, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • A maximum sentence of fifteen (15) years in prison,
  • Fifteen years of probation, or
  • A fine up to $10,000.

Grand Theft of the First Degree

Grand Theft of the First Degree is committed if the property taken is:

  • worth more than $100,000
  • shipping cargo worth more than $50,000

Grand Theft of the First Degree is a First Degree Felony.

If convicted of Grand Theft of the First Degree, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • A minimum sentence of twenty-one (21) months in prison,
  • A maximum sentence of thirty years in prison,
  • Thirty years of probation, or
  • A fine up to $10,000.

Robbery

Pursuant to Florida Statute 812.13(1), the crime of Robbery, is committed when a person intentionally and unlawfully takes money or property from another person through the use of force, violence, assault, or threat. Robbery is also referred to as Strong Arm Robbery.

There are several types of robbery and these are: robbery by sudden snatching, robbery with a deadly weapon, robbery with a firearm, home invasion robbery, and carjacking.

Penalties for Robbery

The crime of Robbery is a Second Degree Felony.

If convicted of Robbery, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • Up to fifteen (15) years in prison.
  • Up to fifteen (15) years of probation.
  • Up to $10,000 in fines.

Penalties for Robbery by Sudden Snatching

Robbery by Sudden Snatching is recognized as a felony of the third degree.

If you are convicted of this crime, a judge can impose a sentence of:

  • Up to 5 years in prison
  • Up to 5 years of probation
  • Up to $5,000 USD in fines.

Penalties for Robbery with a Deadly Weapon

Robbery with a Deadly Weapon is recognized as a Felony of the First Degree.

Here, the judge is required by a minimum mandatory sentence to give you 34.5 months of probation. In this scenarios, the judge however, must observe whether there are special circumstances that may allow him/her to provide a different sentence than the mandatory one. In addition, the judge can impose a combination of the following sentences:

  • Up to 30 years in prison
  • Up to 30 years of probation
  • Up to $30,000 USD in fines.

Penalties for Robbery with a firearm

Robbery with a firearm is recognized as a Felony of the First Degree.

If convicted of this crime, a judge must also obey the minimum mandatory sentence of 10/20/ Life Firearm Enhancement. Again, the judge must observe whether there are special circumstances that may allow him/her to depart from the mandatory minimum sentence. In addition, a judge may impose a sentence of

  • Up to life in prison
  • Up to life on probation
  • Up to $15,000 USD in fines

Penalties for Home Invasion Robbery

Home Invasion Robbery is considered a First Degree Felony.

If convicted, a judge must sentence you to a mandatory minimum sentence of 34.5 months in prison. However, the judge can assess special circumstances, but must observe the minimum mandatory sentence and may impose a combination of these penalties:

  • Up to 30 years in prison
  • Up to 30 years of probation
  • Up to $10,000 USD in fines.

Penalties for Carjacking

Carjacking is a Felony of the First Degree.

If you are convicted for Carjacking, a judge must follow the minimum mandatory sentence of 21 months in prison. Again, the judge must observe whether there are special circumstances that may allow him/her to depart from the mandatory sentence. However, the judge can also impose a sentence of

  • Up to 30 years in prison
  • Up to 30 years of probation
  • Up to $10,000 USD in fines.

Fraud

Under Florida Statute 817.034, the crime of Scheme to Defraud is committed when a person:

  1. Engages in a systematic, ongoing course of conduct;
  2. With the intent to defraud or obtain property from one or more persons;
  3. By false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, promises, or willful misrepresentations of a future act.

Organized Fraud versus Communications Fraud

Florida classifies Schemes to Defraud as the crimes of Organized Fraud and Communications Fraud.

Organized Fraud

Organized Fraud is punished more severely and is committed when a person actually obtains property pursuant to a scheme to defraud.

In contrast to Communications Fraud, Organized Fraud does not require mail, telephonic, or electronic communications to have occurred as part of the scheme to defraud. 

Communications Fraud

Communications Fraud is committed when a person engages in a scheme to defraud and, in furtherance of that scheme, communicates with another by mail, telephonic, or electronic means with the intent to obtain property fraudulently.

Penalties for Scheme to Defraud

The penalties for committing a Scheme to Defraud increase based upon the value of the property and whether the person committed organized or communications fraud.

Organized Fraud

The penalties for Organized Fraud are:

  • Organized Fraud of $50,000 or more is a Felony of the First Degree,
    • up to 30 years in prison
    • up to 30 years of probation
    • up to $10,000 USD in fines
  • Organized Fraud of $20,000 or more is a Felony of the Second Degree,
    • Up to 15 years in prison
    • Up to 15 years of probation
    • Up to $10,000 USD in fines
  • Organized Fraud of less than $20,000 is a Felony of the Third Degree,
    • Up to 5 years in prison
    • Up to 5 years of probation
    • Up to $5,000 USD in fines

Communications Fraud

There are 2 main thresholds in Communications Fraud:

  • $300 or more
  • Less than $300

The penalties are as follows:

  • For Communications Fraud of $300 or more is a Felony of the Third Degree
    • Up to 5 years in prison
    • Up to 5 years of probation
    • Up to $5,000 USD in fines.
  • For Communications Fraud of less than $300 is a Misdemeanor of the First Degree
    • Up to 1 year in jail
    • Up to 1 year of probation
    • Up to $500 USD in fines.

Embezzlement

In an embezzlement case, the classic scenario occurs in the employment setting. In these cases, the state does not need to prove that the defendant initially took the victim’s property without the victim’s consent; consent, privilege, or authority to hold such activity may have happened voluntarily. However, the state does need to prove that the accused later intentionally spent, used, or took the entrusted property without the victim’s consent.

Embezzlement may be charged as petit theft or grand theft in Florida. The type of theft often depends on the value of the taken property, which also determines whether the state will prosecute an offense as a misdemeanor or a felony.

Theft of property valued between $300 and $20,000 qualifies as grand theft in the third degree. Property valued between $20,000 and $100,000 becomes grand theft in the second degree, while property valued over $100,000 results in a charge of grand theft in the first degree.

In Florida, any theft that does not meet the state requirements for a felony prosecution becomes a petit theft charge prosecuted as a misdemeanor.