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Smart Phone Theft Carries Serious Penalties in Florida


Smart phone theft occurs quite often, but it’s been in the Florida news on two notable instances recently. In March, the Miami Herald ran a story about mixed martial arts celebrity Conor McGregor stealing a smashing the phone of a fan who was trying to get a picture. A few weeks later, the Tampa Bay Times reported that an 18-year-old individual with autism stole a phone he saw sitting on the countertop at a fast food restaurant.

It may come as a surprise to some that both men were arrested on felony charges, which carry harsh penalties for a conviction. A Fort Lauderdale theft lawyer can tell you more about how and why this offense is a felony, but an overview may help.

Florida Felony Classifications for Theft Crimes: There are two categories of theft offenses under state law, which are based upon the value of the property stolen:

  • Petit Theft: This offense applies to property valued at less than $100 or between $100-$300, making it Petit Theft of the Second or First Degree, respectively. You could also be charged with First Degree Petit Theft if you have a prior theft conviction, no matter what the value of the property.
  • Grand Theft: When the property is worth more than $300, the charge will always be a felony. In cases involving smart phone theft, the applicable offense is Third Degree Grand Theft, which covers values from $300 to $20,000.

Considering that most advanced smart phones cost more than $300, it’s highly likely that you’ll face Third Degree Grand Theft charges. This value for a felony is quite low as compared to other US states – in fact, Florida has the second-lowest threshold for felony offense, and it’s been that way for decades. There are no signs that lawmakers intend to change that value.

Penalties for Theft Offenses: For Petit Theft, you could face six months to one year in jail or on probation, depending on whether the charge is First or Second Degree. There are also fines ranging from $500-$1,000.

As a felony, Third Degree Grand Theft is assigned a Level 2-4 under Florida’s offense severity ranking system. For a conviction, you could face:

  • Up to five years in prison;
  • A maximum of five years on probation;
  • A fine up to $5,000; or,
  • A combination of any of the above.

Other Consequences: In addition to jail time and fines, there may be implications for your driving privileges if you’re convicted of certain theft crimes. Your license could be suspended up to six months for a first time offense, and up to a year for subsequent convictions. Plus, you could have a felony conviction on your criminal record for Grand Theft charges.

Rely on a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer for Legal Help

Smart phone theft may not seem like a serious matter, but there are implications that you may not have considered. For more information on defenses to the charges, please contact Fort Lauderdale attorney Kevin J. Kulik. We can set up a confidential consultation to discuss your options.




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