Felony Theft Offenses
Exploring Possible Solutions to Your Felony Grand Theft Charge
If you have been arrested for a Felony Grand Theft or another type of theft offense in the St. Petersburg / Clearwater area, we can help. The attorneys in our office routinely handle these types of cases at the Pinellas County Criminal Justice Center. This webpage is an excellent way for you to obtain a better understanding of your criminal charge and the penalties it may carry. More importantly, we invite you to explore several possible solutions to your pending Grand Theft charge as they are explained below.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony Theft Offenses
In Florida, theft offenses are classified as both misdemeanors and felonies. In most cases, the deciding factor is the amount of money taken or the value or nature of the item. Generally speaking, a theft involving $300 or more is classigied as a felony. However, a theft offense may also become a felony due to a person’s prior record of theft related offenses. Thus, even the unlawful taking of an item that has a minimal value or the taking of a small amount of money may be a felony if the person has two prior theft convictions.
If you are charged with a grand theft or other felony theft offense in St. Petersburg or Clearwater, you are facing the possibility of serious penalties. These include substantial fines, the possibility of driver’s license suspension, and potential incarceration in the State Prison System. In addition, a conviction for a grand theft or other felony theft offense would result in forever being labeled as a “convicted felon.” This will cause the loss of your ability to vote, sit on a jury, and own, use, or possess a firearm. Likewise, a felony theft offense or grand theft that results in conviction will forever taint your credibility because you have been convicted of a “crime involving dishonesty or untruthfulness.” Having a criminal defense lawyer who is experienced with the St. Petersburg / Clearwater criminal justice system may make a difference in the ultimate outcome of your theft case.
The Different Types of Felony Grand Theft
A person commits felony grand theft if he knowingly obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or to use, the property of another with intent to either temporarily or permanently deprive the other person of a right to a property or a benefit from the property. Florida Statute 812.014(1). In order for a theft to be a 3rd degree felony grand theft, the property or money taken must be valued at $300 but less than $20,000. Florida Statute 812.014(2)(c). The severity of the penalties are designed by the Legislature to automatically increase when the value of the property that is unlawfully taken exceeds certain amounts:
- If the property is worth $20,000 but less than $100,000, the crime is classified as a 2nd degree Grand Theft. Florida Statute 812.014(2)(b);
- If the property is worth $100,000 or more, the crime is classified as a 1st degree Grand Theft. Florida Statue 812.014(2)(a).
Felonization due to Prior Theft Convictions (Not Value of Property Taken)
There are situations where the property may not be valued at $300 or more, but the law nevertheless allows for the prosecution of the conduct as a felony theft offense. Primarily, these cases are treated as felonies because the person has two or more prior theft convictions. Florida Statute 812.014(3)(c).
Other Types of Felony Grand Theft Offenses
Although most unlawful takings involving money, goods, or services valued at less than $300 are charged under the statues applicable to petit thefts or retail thefts, the legislature has singled out thefts that involve particular items as suitable for felony charges. Even though the value of the item may be far less than the $300 “cut-off” generally applicable in the law, Florida treats the taking of certain signs, equipment, or goods as a more serious offense. Some examples of these items include:
- Wills and other testamentary instruments
- Motor vehicles
- Commercial animals
- Fire extinguishers
- 2,000 or more pieces of citrus fruit
- Stop signs
- Items taken from a posted construction site
In addition, the taking of property from a dwelling or residence is a felony even if the amount of the stolen money or items is between $100 and $300.
Grand Retail Theft
Although many shoplifting, petit theft, or retail theft offenses are classified as misdemeanors, the charge can easily become a felony “Grand Retail Theft” if the items unlawfully taken from the merchant are valued at $300 or more. Florida Statute 812.015(8). In some cases, our office can be sucessful in having your felony grand retail theft charge reduced to a misdemeanor by arguing that the property unlawfully taken had a diminished value of less than $300. Learn more about how we can help in shoplifting, petit theft, or misdemeanor retail theft cases here.
Eight Ways We Can Help You with Your Grand Theft or Other Felony Theft Charge
Our office may be able to help you minimize or avoid many of the negative consequences associated with a grand theft or other felony theft charge. Depending on the particular details of your case, we may be able to:
- Examine the facts and circumstances of your charge, including the valuation of the property, to ascertain if the State Attorney’s Office has properly followed the law with respect to the particular charge that has been filed.
- Consider all possible defenses in your case.
- Evaluate the lawfulness of the police investigation and whether the evidence was legally obtained and admissible in court.
- Provide early intervention on your behalf to the State Attorney’s Office in an effort to convince the prosecutor to not file charges, or to consider proceeding with a less serious offense than the one for which you were arrested.
- Take steps to make application for your participation in the “Pre-Trial Intervention Program.” Your successful completion of this “diversionary” program will result in the dismissal of the charge pending against you.
- Demonstrate facts and “mitigating” evidence that allows the judge hearing your case to determine that you are worthy of receiving a “withhold of adjudication” so as to avoid a formal felony conviction. Resolving your felony charge by securing a withhold of adjudication carries enormous benefits. You would be lawfully permitted to thereafter state that you were not convicted of this felony offense. Additionally, this remedy has the benefit of avoiding a potential suspension of your driving privilege.
- Depending on your prior record, we may be able to seal or expunge all of the records associated with your arrest and prosecution.
Experienced Legal Representation May Make a Difference
If you have been charged with a Grand Theft or other Felony Theft offense in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, or other area of Pinellas County, we are criminal defense lawyers who can help. Together we can discuss the individual facts of your case and decide on the most beneficial course of action. Call our office at (727) 578-0303 for a free consultation.