Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense & Personal Injury Attorneys
Grand Theft vs. Petit Theft in Florida: Understanding the Difference

Grand Theft vs. Petit Theft in Florida: Understanding the Difference

Theft itself is defined in § 812.014 of the Florida Statutes as knowingly obtaining or using another’s property, with the intent of depriving the owner of its possession, use, or benefit. Even an attempt to obtain or use another’s property is considered the crime of theft.

There is much more to theft under Florida law, however. The value and type of property involved will influence whether a defendant faces petit theft or grand theft charges.

Let’s take a look at the key differences between petit and grand theft—and how this may affect you if you’re arrested for or charged with either.

Property Value & Theft Charges

The first factor we will consider is the value of the property that was allegedly stolen. Previously, a person would face felony grand theft charges for theft of property valued at over $300. As of October 1, 2019, that value was changed to $750.

According to Florida law:

  • Misdemeanor petit theft charges apply to stolen property valued at less than $750.
  • Felony grand theft charges apply to stolen property valued at $750 or more.

Grand theft charges can be further broken down based on property value, as follows:

  • A felony of the first degree for property valued at $100,000 or more.
  • A felony of the second degree for property valued at $20,000 to less than $100,000.
  • A felony of the third degree for property valued at $750 to less than $20,000.

Additional factors may affect both petit theft and grand theft charges, including prior theft convictions, the use of firearms or other weapons, whether anyone was injured during the commission of the crime, and the type of property involved.

How the Type of Property Impacts Criminal Charges

In some cases, the type of property will also affect whether a defendant is charged with petit versus grand theft. Theft of a firearm, for example, is always grand theft (a felony) regardless of the value of the firearm.

The following are some of the types of property that may instigate a grand theft charge, regardless of the item’s actual value:

  • Motor vehicles
  • Firearms
  • Wills, codicils, or other legal documents used to direct an estate upon a person’s death
  • Commercial farm animals
  • Stop signs
  • Anhydrous ammonia
  • Certain controlled substances
  • Property taken from a designated construction site
  • Fire extinguishers installed in buildings for fire control/prevention
  • Property taken from a home, apartment, or another dwelling

Penalties for Petit Theft & Grand Theft

The penalties for theft in Florida will range widely depending on whether the defendant is charged with petit or grand theft, and whether he or she is charged with a felony of the first, second, or third degree.

Here is an overview of petit and grand theft penalties under Florida law:

  • Petit theft is typically charged as a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Felony grand theft of the third degree is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
  • Felony grand theft of the second degree is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Felony grand theft of the first degree is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Proving Value in a Florida Theft Charge

When you look at how serious a theft charge can be, it’s easy to see why proof of property value is so important. This is particularly relevant in cases involving retail theft, or shoplifting. The prosecuting attorney may do everything in his or her power to try to prove that the value of stolen property is above $750 in order to secure a felony charge for grand theft, as opposed to a misdemeanor petit theft charge. Every detail will count in the fight to help you avoid a serious charge and conviction.

Choose a Results-Oriented Attorney

At Rudenberg and Glasser, P.A., our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers have handled thousands of cases for clients in all walks of life. We know what’s at stake when it comes to theft charges, and we take care to provide the one-on-one counsel that helps us identify every advantage and use it to secure the best possible outcome every single time.

To find out how we can help you, call (954) 543-1788 or contact us online. We’re here 24/7 to offer our knowledgeable guidance and support.

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