You risk being charged with a theft crime whenever law enforcement suspects you of knowingly taking something you had no right to and converting it to your use.
Contact an Orange County theft lawyer immediately if you face theft charges or believe law enforcement is investigating you in connection with a theft. A capable defense attorney could use their knowledge and skills to achieve the most favorable outcome.
Theft is a crime of dishonesty. In legal jargon, a crime of dishonesty is usually a crime of moral turpitude (CMT). Whether a specific theft crime would be a CMT depends on the situation, but many theft crimes could be CMTs.
Even if you face misdemeanor charges, a conviction for a CMT could have lifelong consequences. The conviction will appear on a background check and could result in being denied a job, apartment, or bank loan. Many careers and professional licenses are off-limits to people convicted of these crimes.
A CMT conviction could impact a person’s immigration status. A person who has applied for a Green Card could be denied due to the conviction. If an offender is undocumented, the conviction could result in them being flagged for deportation. Anyone facing a theft charge should engage an experienced legal professional, but doing so is essential if the accused is not a U.S. citizen.
Florida Statute § 812.014 describes theft crimes. Florida charges these crimes based on the value of the item or property, its identity, the identity of the owner, and where the alleged thief encountered the property.
In general, petit theft is taking or converting something worth less than $750. If the value of the property is less than $100, the crime is a second-degree misdemeanor, and an offender could be sentenced to jail for 60 days or probation for six months. The judge could impose a fine of up to $500.
If the value of the item or property is between $100 and $750, petit theft is a first-degree misdemeanor and could be punished by up to one year in jail, one year of probation, and a $1,000 fine. In addition, the judge often orders a convicted thief to pay restitution.
If the alleged thief took the item from someone’s residence, they face a more serious third-degree felony charge even when the value is less than $750. Similarly, if an alleged thief has prior convictions, they could face felony charges.
Prosecutors bring felony grand theft charges when the value of the property or items taken exceeds $750. However, the law contains many special circumstances and exceptions. Speak with a knowledgeable Orange County theft attorney to understand how a prosecutor might charge a specific incident.
Theft is a third-degree felony if the property is worth between $750 and $20,000. Stealing specific property also could lead to third-degree felony charges. For example, stealing someone’s will, a gun, a farm animal, or up to 2,000 pieces of citrus fruit could lead to third-degree felony charges. The maximum sentence for a third-degree felony is a $5,000 fine and a five-year prison sentence.
Someone could face second-degree felony charges if the value of the property allegedly stolen is between $20,000 and $100,000. In addition, stealing emergency medical equipment or law enforcement equipment worth more than $300 is a second-degree felony. When someone allegedly loots property worth between $750 and $20,000 during a riot or declared emergency, they could face a second-degree felony charge. If convicted, an offender could face 15 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
First-degree felony charges could apply if the value of the property exceeds $100,000. However, stealing a law enforcement semitrailer is a first-degree felony regardless of its value. The alleged theft of cargo valued at more than $50,000 leads to first-degree felony charges. Theft is also a first-degree felony if the thief uses a vehicle to commit the crime (not just as a get-away vehicle) or when the crime causes property damage exceeding $1,000. Conviction carries a prison sentence of up to 30 years and a $10,000 fine.
The complexity of the law regarding theft charges presents opportunities for the defense. An Orange County theft attorney could challenge the value of the items allegedly stolen. If the prosecutor does not have definitive proof of value, they might not be able to justify the charge.
If the prosecutor does not have a solid basis for every element of a charge, they might negotiate a reduced charge or agree to a resolution that does not include jail time. In an appropriate case, it could be appropriate to force the prosecutor to prove their case before a jury.
A theft charge requires the advice of a seasoned professional. Resolving the charges with minimal long-term consequences is often possible, but doing so requires experience, knowledge, and skill. Call an Orange County theft lawyer from The Umansky Law Firm as soon as you are arrested on theft charges.
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