Grand Theft in Florida 101: You May Have a Defense
Grand theft may be a popular term due to its association with an automobile-based video game, but the crime doesn’t just apply to cars, as reported by the Palm Beach Post. A man was arrested and charged with grand theft just days after he reportedly gambled away more than $5,000 on his employer’s credit card at the Palm Beach Kennel Club. He’s facing serious criminal penalties for the crime, which is a felony of varying degrees in Florida, depending on the circumstances. If you’re facing similar charges, it’s important to consult with a Florida criminal defense lawyer. However, some general information should help you understand these types of cases.
Definition of Grand Theft in Florida
You may be charged with the crime of grand theft under Florida criminal law if:
- You knowingly and illegally obtained or used, or attempted to obtain or use, property belonging to someone else;
- You acted with the intent to temporarily or permanently remove the property from the victim, or deprive him or her from the right to use or benefit from the item – or, you took the property of the victim and directed it to someone else who wasn’t entitled to it; and
- The property has a fair market value of $300 or more.
Penalties for a Grand Theft Conviction
The criminal penalties for being convicted of grand theft depend on the degree of the felony charge.
- Third Degree Felony: The crime is a third degree felony if the property is valued between $300 and $20,000; however, there are special rules covering certain types of property, such as a firearm, vehicle, farm animal, or traffic sign. The penalty for third degree grand theft is a prison sentence up to five years, or five years’ probation, plus a fine of $5,000.
- Second Degree Felony: If the property is valued at $20,000 up to $100,000, the crime is a second degree felony. Penalties include up to 15 years in prison, or 15 years of probation, and a fine of $10,000.
- First Degree Felony: Theft of property that is valued over $100,000 or falls into a specific type (law enforcement vehicle, for example) is a first degree felony. The penalties include up to 30 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
Grand Theft Defenses
You may have a defense to grand theft under certain circumstances, such as:
- You lack the required intent: If you did not actually intend to deprive the victim of the property, this is a defense to the crime. For example, if you thought you had some right to possess or use the item, there is no intent.
- The victim consented: A justifiable belief that the victim allowed you to take the property for your own use is a defense to grand theft.
Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale
If you or a loved one has been charged with grand theft in Florida, an experienced defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik can advocate on your behalf and guide you through the criminal justice system. Contact Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation in the Fort Lauderdale area.