People sometimes think of theft as a minor crime but nothing is minor about the punishment you might endure if you are convicted. Florida takes theft seriously, exacting harsh sentences for an offender convicted of knowingly taking or profiting from something they know is not theirs.
Contact a Clermont theft lawyer immediately if law enforcement officers suspect you of theft or if you were arrested and charged. A qualified defense attorney could protect your rights and ensure that prosecutors hear your side of the story.
They could work to get your charges dismissed or, if dismissal is not an option, obtain the best result possible under the circumstances.
Theft means to take or possess something the alleged thief knows they do not have the right to take or possess. This state recognizes many types of theft crimes. Acquiring property by false pretenses, credit card fraud, embezzlement, possessing stolen property, shoplifting, stealing trade secrets, and writing bad checks are all theft crimes.
Theft is a crime of dishonesty, sometimes called a crime of moral turpitude. A person with a theft conviction on their record could be denied employment, housing, credit, educational opportunities, and a professional license due to their criminal status. Working with a Clermont theft attorney could help an accused avoid a conviction that would permanently stain their record.
Prosecutors must consider several factors when deciding how to charge an alleged theft, as there are several variations to it.
Petit theft is a misdemeanor. Prosecutors bring a petit theft charge if the value of the allegedly stolen property is less than $750. It is a second-degree misdemeanor if the property is worth less than $100, and a conviction carries a possible sentence of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. If the property is worth more than $100 but less than $750, the crime is a first-degree misdemeanor that could lead to up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Certain aggravating circumstances could enhance a charge, even if the monetary value of the property qualified as petit theft. People who were convicted of theft charges twice will face felony petit theft charges if they are accused again.
Unlike petit theft, grand theft has more to do with the type of property the accused allegedly stole than its value, although value is a factor. Grand theft is a felony. Conviction on felony theft charges could lead to significant prison sentences and hefty fines.
Third-degree grand theft is the charge if the accused person allegedly stole a vehicle, will, gun, farm animal, fire extinguisher, or several other items defined in Florida Statute § 12.014(c). If the statute does not describe the item allegedly stolen, its value must be more than $750 and less than $20,000 to merit a third-degree theft charge. However, someone who takes an item valued at more than $100 and less than $750 from a home could face a third-degree felony theft charge.
Second-degree grand theft applies when the allegedly stolen property has a value between $20,000 and $100,000, or less than $50,000 of cargo, or emergency equipment with a value of more than $300. First-degree grand theft is the charge if the allegedly stolen property exceeds $100,000, or the suspect used a vehicle in the theft and it caused injury or property damage, or stealing cargo worth more than $50,000.
Prison sentences may last up to five years for third-degree felony convictions, second-degree felonies carry a 15-year prison sentence, and someone convicted of a first-degree grand theft faces up to 30 years. If the crime involved a weapon, an offender could get life in prison.
One way to defend a theft charge is to challenge the prosecutor’s estimate of the property’s value. Prosecutors sometimes overstate the value and bring an inappropriate charge. A Clermont theft attorney also could exploit any weaknesses in the prosecutor’s evidence and look for signs that police used improper procedures to obtain evidence, and motion to suppress the evidence.
Prosecutors often entertain a proposal to plea to a lesser charge. In some situations, a plea bargain could be a good option for a specific defendant.
Never take a theft charge lightly. The consequences of being charged with a crime of dishonesty are significant and long-lasting. A Clermont theft lawyer could examine the prosecutor’s evidence and present a vigorous defense, so get in touch with our team immediately after your arrest.
The Umansky Law Firm Criminal Defense & Injury Attorneys