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The following Legal Guide is intended to provide an overview of Florida’s Theft laws (generally F.S. 812.14), as well as some issues collateral to the same (i.e. application of diversion, statute of limitations issues, civil… Scroll down to read more!

The following Legal Guide is intended to provide an overview of Florida’s Theft laws (generally F.S. 812.14), as well as some issues collateral to the same (i.e. application of diversion, statute of limitations issues, civil theft statute, etc). I hope that it proves helpful to you.

  1. What is Theft?

    In Florida, “Theft” is defined as “knowingly obtaining or using, or endeavoring to obtain or to use, the property of another with intent to, either temporarily or permanently deprive the other person of a right to the property or a benefit from the property or to appropriate the property to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to the use of the property. Essentially theft boils down to your taking something that belongs to someone else.

  2. What are the various classifications of Theft?

    In Florida theft is generally classified based upon the value of the property in question. There are five (5) levels of theft offenses in Florida. From lowest to highest they are: 5) “Petit” or “Petty” theft, a 2nd degree misdemeanor, which occurs where the property stolen is valued at less than $100; 4) “Petit” or “Petty” theft, a 1st degree misdemeanor, which occurs where the property stolen is valued at $100 or more, but less than $300; 3) “Grand” theft in the 3rd degree, which occurs where the property stolen is valued at $300 or more, but less than $20,000.00; 2) “Grand” theft in the 2nd degree, which occurs where the property stolen is valued at $20,000.00 or more, but less than $100,000.00; and 1) 2) “Grand” theft in the 1st degree, which occurs where the property stolen is valued at $100,000.00 or more. However, there are all sorts of “special circumstances where these level of your theft offense may differ from these guidelines.

  3. What are the “special factors” which can effect Petit Theft?

    A person who commits a 2nd degree petit theft but who has previously been convicted of any theft will be charged instead with a 1st degree misdemenaor. Similarly, a person who commits any petit theft but who has previously been convicted two or more times of any theft will instead be charged with a 3rd degree felony.

  4. What are the “special factors” which can constitute Grand theft in the 3rd degree?

    Apart from being accused of stealing property valued at $300.00 or more but less than $20,000.00, you can be charged with Grand theft in the 3rd degree if you are accused of taking any of the following items: A will, codicil, or other testamentary instrument; a firearm, a motor vehicle, any commercially farmed animal, including any animal of the equine, bovine, or swine class or other grazing animal; a bee colony of a registered beekeeper; and aquaculture species raised at a certified aquaculture facility, any fire extinguisher, any amount of citrus fruit consisting of 2,000 or more individual pieces of fruit, anything taken from a designated construction site identified by the posting of a sign, any stop sign, any anhydrous ammonia, any amount of a controlled substance as defined by Florida Law and, finally, it is Grand Theft of the 3rd degree to steal property which is valued at $100 or more but less than $300 from a dwelling (a residence) or from the unenclosed curtilage of a dwelling. Finally, a person who commits an otherwise petit theft but who has previously been convicted two or more times of any theft commits a felony of the third degree.

  5. What are the “special factors” which can constitute Grand theft in the 2nd degree?

    Apart from being accused of stealing property valued at $20,000.00 or more but less than $100,000.00, you can be charged with Grand theft in the 3rd degree if you are accused of taking any of the following: Cargo valued at less than $50,000 that has entered the stream of interstate or intrastate commerce from the shipper’s loading platform to the consignee’s receiving dock; Emergency medical equipment (“emergency medical equipment” means mechanical or electronic apparatus used to provide emergency services and care), valued at $300 or more, that is taken from a facility licensed under chapter 395 or from an aircraft or vehicle permitted under chapter 401; Law enforcement equipment (“law enforcement equipment” means any property, device, or apparatus used by any law enforcement officer), valued at $300 or more, that is taken from an authorized emergency vehicle. Also, any 3rd Degree Grand Theft which is committed in a County during a declared “State of Emergency” is “bumped” up one degree to a 2nd.

  6. What are the “special factors” which can constitute Grand theft in the 1st degree?

    Apart from being accused of stealing property valued at more than $100,000.00, you can be charged with Grand theft in the 1st degree if you are accused of taking any of the following: A semitrailer that was deployed by a law enforcement officer; Cargo valued at $50,000 or more that has entered the stream of interstate or intrastate commerce from the shipper’s loading platform to the consignee’s receiving dock; or if any grand theft is committed and in the course of committing the offense the offender uses a motor vehicle as an instrumentality, other than merely as a getaway vehicle, to assist in committing the offense and thereby either damages the real property of another or in the course of committing the offense the offender causes damage to the real or personal property of another in excess of $1,000. Also, any 2nd Degree Grand Theft which is committed in a County during a declared “State of Emergency” is “bumped” up one degree to a 1st.

  7. What are the penalties for the various levels of theft in Florida?

    2nd degree Petit Theft is punishable in Florida by a maximum sentence of imprisonment of not more than 60 days and a maximum $500.00 fine. 1st degree Petit Theft is punishable in Florida by not more than 364 days in a local (non-State prison) jail and a maximum $1,000.00 fine. 3rd degree Grand Theft is punishable in Florida by up to 5 years in State prison and a maximum $5,000.00 fine. 2nd degree Grand Theft is punishable in Florida by up to 15 years in State prison and a maximum $10,000.00 fine. 1st degree Grand Theft is punishable in Florida by up to 30 years in State prison and a maximum $10,000.00 fine.

  8. What is the Statute of Limitations on Theft Charges in FL?

    The “Statute of Limitations” (“SOL”) restricts the time in which the State has to charge someone with a crime. If the State blows the time frame (i.e. if they charge you after the SOL has expired) then you enjoy an “affirmative defense” to prosecution. The SOL does not apply to situations where there has been an arrest. If you have been arrested then “Speedy Trial” rules, and not the SOL, apply. That said, here are the general time limitations for the various level of crimes: For capital, life, or any felony resulting in death there is NO SOL and prosecution can be commenced at any time; for 1st degree felonies prosecution must begin within 4 years, for any other felony the prosecution must begin within 3 years, for 1st degree misdemeanors the SOL is 2 years and for 2nd degree misdemeanors the SOL is 1 year. However, ALL THEFT CRIMES must begin within 5 years.

  9. Are there any “collateral consequences” for Theft in Florida?

    Yes there are, but perhaps the most significant collateral consequence of a theft CONVICTION (not an arrest, a withhold or adjudication or a dismissal / nolle pros but a “conviction”) is a driver license suspension. A 1st theft conviction carries a 6 month driver license suspension and a 2nd carries a 1 year driver license suspension. Further, if an offender is under the age of 18 at the time of sentencing then a driver’s license suspension, or even the withholding of issuance of a FL-DL may be used by the court as an alternative to commitment to the Department of Juvenile Justice, incarceration, or probation, so long as the person has not previously been convicted or adjudicated delinquent.

  10. Do you have any civil liability for a criminal theft?

    Yes. Anyone who commits theft (or, in the case of a minor, them the parent or legal guardian of a minor who commits theft or shoplifting) in Florida may be held civilly liable to the theft victim. A civil theft lawsuit (in civil court) can seek up to three times (3x) the amount of monetary damage caused or a minimum amount of $200.00, whichever is greater, as well as reimbursement of the theft victim’s reasonable attorneys’ fees and court costs. In order for a civil theft claim to be valid the claimant must first provide notice of their intent to seek civil damages a minimum of thirty (30) days prior to filing any action for civil liability, along with a written demand for payment. If the offender complies with the written demand for payment, the victim must issue a written release from further civil liability.

  11. Do I have to pay the civil demand to the victim?

    In Florida, a civil demand letter to you is essentially an offer to settle a potential civil lawsuit for a minimum of amount of $200.00, but this is a lawsuit which has not yet been, and which may never actually be, filed. In order to win their civil lawsuit the victim (now plaintiff) must prepare the paperwork, pay filing fees, serve you with a summons and then prove (by clear and convincing evidence) that they were injured by the theft. In other words, the victim / Plaintiff will have to “throw good money out for bad” (i.e. be willing to invest time, energy, effort, resources, money, etc) to actually even attempt to get a judgment, much less to collect if they are ultimately successful. In this context, whether or not you agree to pay a theft victim a civil penalty is both a civil and a personal, not a criminal defense, question. Again, if you choose to comply with the written demand for payment then the victim must issue you a written release from further civil (not criminal) liability.

  12. What is “Diversion” (PTI / PTD)?

    Diversion is a program which is designed to make you think twice about future criminality by way of making you jump through a series of proverbial hoops during a period of supervision, successful completion of which results in a dismissal. The program is owned and operated by the State Attorney’s Office and they have absolute and unequivocal discretion as to whether to admit you, keep you or “graduate” you from their program. Knowing that, the question now is whether or not diversion is right for you. There may or may not be viable defenses to the charges, affirmative or otherwise, or there may be factual, legal, procedural or substantive mechanisms by which to attack and beat the charges without going through diversion.

  13. Will I be eligible for Diversion for my theft case?

    If this is your first offense then it is almost certain that you will be eligible for a diversionary program. However, the question now is whether or not diversion is right for you. There may or may not be viable defenses to the charges, affirmative or otherwise, or there may be factual, legal, procedural or substantive mechanisms by which to attack and beat the charges without going through diversion. The best way for you to get competent advise is going to be to have a face-to-face meeting with a criminal defense lawyer who can follow-up on your information with questions of her/his own, as well as review the police reports and citations and then offer an informed opinion.

  14. What’s the bottom line?

    If it ‘aint yours, or if you don’t intend to pay for it, then don’t take it. But, if you do, then don’t make any statements, admissions, confessions, offer any explanations or say or do anything other than INVOKING YOUR RIGHTS AND REQUESTING / DEMANDING TO SPEAK TO YOUR LAWYER . Again, please remember that a skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyer should be able to tell you whether or not enjoy viable defenses to the charges, affirmative or otherwise, or there may be factual, legal, procedural or substantive mechanisms by which to attack and beat the charges in your unique case.

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Michael A. Haber

At Michael A. Haber, P.A. "it's all about reasonable doubt"!Whether in State or Federal Courts, Michael A. Haber, P.A. strives to ensure that his client's rights are respected and that his clients receive top-tier legal representation and counsel.For more than a quarter of a century I have striven to make Michael A. Haber, P.A. a business that custom tailors its services to meet the needs of the client. This incorporates such things as (but is not limited to) doing my best to meet clients at their convenience (as opposed to mine), in locations and at times which are mutually convenient (sometimes at their homes, places of business, independent ground - having free wifi and excellent coffee any Dunkin Donuts always works for me - and occasionally even at odd hours), structuring fees to reasonably accommodate the parties, making myself personally available to the client as close to 24/7 as is possible and, perhaps most importantly, giving careful and comprehensive consideration to both micro and macro issues in a given case so as to be able to agree upon and effort toward a viable litigation objective. This is why I refer to Michael A. Haber, P.A. proudly providing "boutique criminal defense litigation" (being "a small company that offers highly specialized services"), and this is a large part of Michael A. Haber, P.A.'s mission statementAccordingly, Michael A. Haber, P.A. has provided personalized and boutique legal services to both individuals and entities, primarily in the South Florida area, since 1991. With no history of professional discipline whatsoever, Michael A. Haber, Esq. zealously advocates his client's interests and custom tailors his services to meet each client's particular situation, needs and desires.Toward that end Michael A. Haber, Esq. makes himself directly available to his clients whether in person, over the phone (305-381-8686 or Toll Free 1-888-SHARK-8-1), by cell, verbally or text (305-798-2220), by e-mail (sharky910@aol.com) on Facebook ( http://www.facebook.com/haberpa ), on Twittter, (@Sharkjy910) on AOL/IM (Sharky910), and also why I consistently add information to the public on both the Michael A. Haber, P.A. Criminal Michael A Haber PA Criminal DUI Defense Litigation Miami Blog (http://www.habercriminallaw.blogspot.com/) and with my "Webisode" series on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/c/MichaelHaberLaw), whcih currently features 222 briegf VideoFAQ's on a variety of Criminal Defense, DUI and BUI related topics.When you hire Michael A. Haber, P.A. you get Michael A. Haber, Esq.!And remember, at HaberPA, it's all about reasonable doubt!

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