Why Are There Such Major Differences Among Florida Theft Crimes?
In common usage, theft means taking something that does not belong to you. In the specific area of Florida criminal law, the definitions and details are much more convoluted. Lawmakers have dedicated an entire section to theft crimes in Florida, and the provisions encompass such a wide range of conduct that you might not understand what charges you could be facing. This is one situation where what you do not know CAN hurt you, since there are major differences among theft offenses – particularly when it comes to punishment.
It may not make sense that the basic notion of theft could be so confusing but, because these cases are most definitely challenging, it is essential to retain a Fort Lauderdale theft lawyer. Some background information may also help you understand why there are such major differences among Florida theft crimes.
Basic Theft Charges
You could be arrested for theft by knowingly obtaining or using property belonging to someone else, when there is evidence that you intended to:
- Deprive the owner of a right related to the property; or
- Misappropriate the property to your own use or to someone else not entitled to it.
Florida law breaks down the offense into petit and grand theft according to the value of the stolen property, which is part of the reason there are so many different forms of theft. In fact, theft counts could range from a low level misdemeanor up to a First Degree Felony. However, there are major distinctions among theft crimes when you review the underlying circumstances. For instance, the charges will be more severe in general when there is physical contact, force, or an invasion.
Robbery and Related Crimes
Theft crosses over into a more serious crime when the taking or misappropriation of property involves:
- The use of force;
- Violence; or
- Assault and/or battery.
Because there is more of an affront to the victim and a potential for serious injuries, robbery is charged as a Second Degree Felony – though it becomes a First Degree Felony in the presence of a deadly weapon.
Burglary is NOT Theft
While often associated with theft, burglary is the crime of unlawfully entering a space with the intent to commit a crime inside. The offense might be taking property, but it could also be kidnapping, assault, or other offense. Burglary is always a felony, but the charges depend upon the type of premises. Florida law draws a distinction among dwellings, occupied and unoccupied structures, and conveyances like cars, trucks, boats, and other vessels.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale, FL Theft Crimes Defense Attorney Today
Now that you can see the subtle differences among various theft crimes in Florida, you realize why the laws vary according to the circumstances. When your punishment could include substantial jail time and fines, trust your defense to attorney Kevin J. Kulik. There may be defenses or strategies for fighting theft charges, and we can explain the details after reviewing your situation. Please contact our Fort Lauderdale office today to set up a consultation.