Petit Theft vs. Grand Theft in the State of Florida
If you are that unfortunate suspect, you might wonder about what punitive measures will be taken you. Figuring out the punishment is not the cakewalk that most people assume it is. The punishment must in some sense “fit the crime” and locking up a person because they stole a $1 dollar candy bar should be considered cruel and unusual punishment. So, what is the punishment for theft in Florida? This depends entirely upon what category the suspect is categorized as and how much the suspect allegedly has allegedly stolen.
Theft crimes are generally custom-fitted to each individual. A primary factor to consider in determining what type of theft the suspect or defendant is to ask what category did the State of Florida categorize the suspect/defendant? For example, is the suspect/defendant a first-time offender, or have they been convicted of prior crimes even unrelated crimes? If the State of Florida categorizes the suspect as a first time offender, the suspect or defendant is more likely to receive a less severe punishment. First time offenders are more likely to receive a less severe punishment.
A secondary factor in determining whether the Defendant committed petit theft or grand theft aside from criminal records depends on whether the defendant possessed the intent to steal. This is where terms such as petit theft and grand theft come into play. It is important to first define theft as a whole. Florida law characterizes theft as “A person commits theft if he or she knowingly obtains or uses, or endeavors 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.” This statute has room for discussion, it is very difficult to ascertain a person’s intent. If a person has an item in their cart and takes that item home, did the suspect/defendant knowingly commit the theft, and be charged with the crime?
A third and important factor that comes into play is how much did the suspect/defendant steal? If the Defendant stole more than $750 dollars of goods than the suspect/defendant will be charged with a felony; If the Defendant stole less than $750, the suspect/defendant will be charged with a misdemeanor. So in theory, there’s a big difference between an offender who stole $50 worth of products and a first time offender who embezzled thousands of dollars.
PUNISHMENTS FOR PETIT THEFT
Petit theft is the theft of several goods under the amount of $750. Since October 1st, 2019 the limit for petit theft has been raised from $350 to $750. However, if a person is convicted of two petty theft charges then it is considered a third-degree grand theft felony.
Second degree Petit Theft
According to Florida statutes s. 775.082 or 775.083, any items which were stolen with a value of less than $100, will be considered as second-degree petit theft. However, if a person has been convicted of misdemeanor theft, then recharged for another misdemeanor theft charge, that person will be charged with first-degree petty theft. A second-degree theft can be punishable by up to 60 days in county jail and a $500 fine.
First Degree Petit Theft
According to Florida statutes 775.082 or 775.083, if a person steals items with a value of $100 but less than $750, it is considered as a first-degree petit theft charge. This charge can be punishable by up to 12 months in county jail and $1000.00 fine.
WHAT IS CONSIDERED GRAND THEFT?
Third Degree Grand Theft
According to s. 775.082, 775.083, and 775.084, an offense will be considered a third-degree grand theft felony offense if the item stolen is at least $750 but less than $20,000. If the person has two petty theft convictions or if they are in a position of trust they can also be charged with a third-degree felony. Stealing items such as firearms, stop signs, or a will can be considered a third-degree theft offense. Third-degree grand theft can be punishable by up to five years in Florida State prison and a $5,000 fine.
Second Degree Grand Theft
According to s. 775.082, 775.083, and 775.084, A second-degree grand theft felony is the theft of $5,000 and over but less than $100,000. A person can be charged with a second-degree offense if they steal emergency medical equipment, law enforcement equipment, or if they stole in a state that the governor placed under a ‘state of emergency’. A person can receive up to 15 years in prison and a fine of $10.000.
First Degree Grand Theft
According to s. 775.082, 775.083, and 775.084, if a person commits theft of $100,000 or more, it will be considered a first-degree felony. Individuals will also face a first-degree felony charge if they steal equipment from an emergency vehicle that is worth $300 or more, or if the person commits grand theft and uses a vehicle as an instrument to commit said theft, other than as a getaway vehicle, to assist in committing the offense and thereby damages the real property of another. First-degree grand theft is punishable by up to 30 years in Florida State prison and by a $10,000 fine.
HOW IS VALUE ASSESSED WHEN IT COMES TO PETIT AND GRAND THEFT
How does the court assess value? Say the theft was of an unquantifiable object, an example being an idea, a service (that does not have a set price), a software program that has not been introduced to the market, or if the victim doesn’t have proof of what they paid for the item; How would the court go about determining the value of the stolen goods?
Florida courts dictate that the value of an item cannot be assessed based on testimony alone. Unless it involves retail theft, in that case, if the prosecutor charges the suspect of petit theft instead of retail theft they will still need other evidence besides price tags. This is because the court determines the price of items based on a“ fair market” value. This means if an alleged victim paid $1,250 for an item a couple of months prior, the court will need to find the current up-to-date price and will charge the suspect based on that. With this in mind, a person might steal $1000 testimonial worth of products but be charged under petit theft because the value of those items has depreciated. An important note when it comes to being charged with petit theft, a petit theft charge can be upgraded to a felony, if the person is in a position of trust. A housekeeper that steals $30 for example can be considered a felony.
Once charged with petit theft a person might be forced to pay civil remedies. The civil remedies can be disputed, reduced, or altogether dismissed by an attorney. These civil remedies could be placed on top of the criminal charges that the individual may face.