If you have been charged with shoplifting, petty theft, petit theft, or grand theft, you should speak to a lawyer right away. Any theft offense is serious for numerous reasons, as I explain below, and needs to be carefully addressed by a legal professional.
The crime of theft comes in many forms and has many enhancers. Additionally, it has long term ramifications for your future. See, section 812.014, Florida Statutes.
Theft: From Petit to Grand
A person commits theft if he or she knowingly obtains or uses, or attempts to obtain or to use, someone else’s property intending to, either temporarily or permanently, take the property from someone else or to use the property for their own benefit.
NOTE: To commit theft you just have to attempt to do it, even if you only meant to use the property temporarily. The defense “I gave it back” does not exist.
|Maximum Imprisonment||Maximum Fine||Maximum Probation|
|2nd Degree Misdemeanor||60 days||$500||6 months|
|1st Degree Misdemeanor||365 days||$1,000||12 months|
|3rd Degree Felony||5 years||$5,000||60 months|
|2nd Degree Felony||15 years||$10,000||180 months|
|1st Degree Felony||30 years||$10,000||360 months|
Petit Theft of the Second Degree; Shoplifting
A person commits petit theft of the second degree (2nd degree misdemeanor) if the value of the property is less than $100.
Using a false receipt to return property is a separate second degree misdemeanor.
Petit Theft of the First Degree; Shoplifting
A person commits petit theft of the first degree (1st degree misdemeanor) if the property stolen is valued at $100 or more, but less than $750.
Obtaining property by false receipt is a separate first degree misdemeanor.
Grand Theft of the Third Degree
It is grand theft of the third degree (third degree felony) if the property stolen is:
- Valued at $750 or more, but less than $20,000.
- A will, codicil, or other testamentary instrument.
- A firearm.
- A motor vehicle.
- Any commercially farmed animal.
- A bee colony of a registered beekeeper.
- An aquaculture species raised at a certified aquaculture facility.
- If the property stolen is a commercially farmed animal, a bee colony of a registered beekeeper; or an aquaculture species raised at a certified aquaculture facility, a $10,000 fine shall be imposed.
- Any fire extinguisher that, at the time of the taking, was installed in any building for the purpose of fire prevention and control.
- Any amount of citrus fruit consisting of 2,000 or more individual pieces of fruit.
- Property taken from a designated construction site.
- Any stop sign.
- Anhydrous ammonia.
- Any amount of a controlled substance (drugs).
- If the property stolen is valued at $100 or more, but less than $750, and is taken from a dwelling as defined or from the unenclosed curtilage of a dwelling
NOTE: This is subject to the “State of Emergency” enhancement.
Grand Theft of the Second Degree
A person commits Grand Theft of the Second Degree (2nd degree felony) if the property stolen is:
- valued at $20,000 or more, but less than $100,000, or
- the property stolen is cargo valued at less than $50,000 that has entered the stream of interstate or intrastate commerce from the shipper’s loading platform to the consignee’s receiving dock, or
- the property stolen is emergency medical equipment, valued at $300 or more, that is taken from a facility licensed under chapter 395 or from an aircraft or vehicle permitted under chapter 401; or
- the property stolen is law enforcement equipment, valued at $300 or more, that is taken from an authorized emergency vehicle, as defined in s. 316.003.
NOTE: This is subject to the “State of Emergency” enhancement.
Grand Theft of the First Degree
A person commits Grand Theft of the First Degree (1st degree felony) if the property stolen is:
- valued at $100,000 or more, or
- is a semitrailer that was deployed by a law enforcement officer; or
- if the property stolen is cargo valued at $50,000 or more that has entered the stream of interstate or intrastate commerce from the shipper’s loading platform to the consignee’s receiving dock; or
- if the offender commits any grand theft and:
- in the course of committing the offense the offender uses a motor vehicle as an instrumentality, other than merely as a getaway vehicle, to assist in committing the offense and thereby damages the real property of another; or
- in the course of committing the offense the offender causes damage to the real or personal property of another in excess of $1,000.
Punishment Enhancements for Theft
Theft has many enhancements and stacking penalties. Stacking relates to multiple, separate theft convictions.
Stacking for Petit Theft
A person who commits petit theft and who has previously been convicted of any theft commits a misdemeanor of the first degree. A person who commits petit theft and who has previously been convicted two or more times of any theft commits a felony of the third degree.
Gasoline Theft from Gas Station
It is theft if you fill all or part of your gas tank and leave the gas station without paying. In addition to the penalties prescribed for petit or grand theft above, the following will also occur:
- Every judgment of guilty of a petit theft for gas stolen from a gas station shall provide for the suspension of the person’s driver license.
- The first suspension of a driver license under this subsection shall be for a period of up to 6 months.
- The second or subsequent suspension of a driver license under this subsection shall be for a period of 1 year.
The Penalty for Coordinating a Theft
A person who coordinates the activities of others to commit theft, where the stolen property has a value in excess of $3,000, commits a felony of the second degree.
Victim is 65 Years Old or Older
If the victim is 65 years old or older, under certain circumstances, the level offense will be bumped up. For example, a petit theft of the first degree will become a felony of the third degree. Additionally, mandatory community service may be required.
The State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly, unlawfully, and intentionally attempted to take or use the property. Lack of intent, lawful possession, and unintentional possession are all defenses. Value of the property taken can be a defense to the “level” of the offense charged. Additionally, the standard defenses always apply, such as duress.
Theft is unique because it reaches across all degrees and categories of criminal levels. First time misdemeanor offenses usually can be placed into a diversion program. Subsequent misdemeanor offenses and felony offenses often receive probation. However, each offense will be treated based on the evidence and circumstances surrounding the situation.