For many people, the term “grand theft” brings to mind a popular video game, Grand Theft Auto, but being charged with grand theft in real life is no game. There are a number of way that a person can end up being charged with grand theft and most that have nothing to do with automobiles. Obviously, a grand theft charge has the potential to result in long-term impacts on your life, including jail time, fines, and forever being labeled as having a conviction for dishonesty. We’re sharing some information from our Clearwater grand theft attorney team to help you understand a few basics when it comes to grand theft.
If you’ve been charged with grand theft, it’s important to contact our team at Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan to discuss your specific case and the best defense for you.
Types of Grand Theft
In Florida, grand theft has a far different meaning than other states. Although other states may define grand theft as the theft of anything over $1000, Florida has a lower threshold for felony grand theft: $750. This was recently changed, as the threshold had been $300 for many years. In any event, this means that if you steal something valued over $750, you may be charged with felony grand theft.
According to Florida statute chapter 812, theft occurs when a person 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.
Felony grand theft is broken into three degrees:
- 3rd Degree Grand Theft: The property or money taken must be valued at $7500 but less than $20,000.
- 2nd Degree Grand Theft: The property must be worth $20,000 but less than $100,000.
- 1st Degree Grand Theft: The property is worth $100,000 or more.
To break this down further, grand theft can include more than just personal property or money. It can also include regardless of the actual value of the item:
- Any motor vehicle
- Commercial animals and/or their equipment or care items (for example, taking a horse and horse trailer, or even just taking the horse).
- Fire extinguishers and other safety equipment
- A controlled substance
- A Will
- A stop sign
- Any property taken from a dwelling, if worth more than $100
It is important to note that Florida Law makes it criminal to “temporarily deprive” the rightful owner or possessor of the property. Thus, even if you took property without permission, but later returned it, the crime of grand theft would still be complete.
How to Fight Grand Theft Charges
If you’ve been charged with felony grand theft, you have legal defenses available to you. A grand theft attorney in St. Petersburg with our team at Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan can discuss your options. In some cases, it may be possible to show that you actually had a legal right to possess the item. In other cases, there may be facts that demonstrate a lack of intent or honest mistake. It is also important to evaluate whether law enforcement conducted an investigation lawfully and how the police gathered the evidence. Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, it may be appropriate for your attorney to intervene early with the State Attorney’s office in effort to persuade the prosecutor not to file the charge.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.