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Florida Theft Laws

Overview of Florida Theft Laws

Florida laws use the legal term "theft" to describe a variety of property crimes, including larceny, stealing, misappropriation, conversion, and other offenses. In general, theft involves the unauthorized taking or use of another person's property. In a theft case, the prosecutor must prove several elements of the crime.

The prosecutor must establish the defendant's specific intent to take or use property belonging to another person. The defendant must have intended to temporarily or permanently deprive the owner of possession or use of the property. The prosecutor must show that the defendant had the criminal intent at the time when the defendant took or attempted to take the property.

Florida state laws distinguish between petit theft and grand theft. The type of theft determines whether the state will prosecute an offense as a misdemeanor or a felony. The type of theft often depends on the value of the property.

The box below contains important information about Florida theft laws, penalties, and possible sentences.

Statutes

Florida Statutes Section 812.005 et. seq.

Florida Theft Definition

A person commits theft if they:
  • knowingly obtains or uses the property of another
  • with the intent to, either temporarily or permanently: deprive the person of a right to the property or a benefit from the property, OR
  • appropriates the property to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to use of the property.

Penalties and Sentences for Theft and Grand Theft

Grand Theft

First Degree Grand Theft:

  • Stolen property value is $100,000 or more
  • maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000

Second Degree Grand Theft:

  • Stolen property value between $20,000 and $99,999
  • Maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000

Third Degree Grand Theft

  • Stolen property valued between $300 and $19,999 or
  • the property take is a firearm, a motor vehicle, a commercially farmed animal, a fire extinguisher, any amount of fruit consisting of 2,000 or more individual pieces, any stop sign, construction signs, or anhydrous ammonia
  • Maximum of 5 years in jail and a $5,000 fine.

First Degree Petty Theft

  • Stolen property valued between $100 and $299
  • Maximum penalty of 1 year in jail and a $1000 fine
  • If defendant convicted twice of any theft crime, will be charged with elevated third degree felony

Second Degree Petty Theft

  • Stolen property valued below $100
  • Maximum sentence of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine

Enhancements

  • Prosecution of grand theft in the first degree for a crime during which the defendant used a motor vehicle as an instrumentality during the commission of the crime, for a purpose other than using the motor vehicle as a getaway car
  • Prosecution of grand theft in the first degree when a defendant caused over $1,000 in damage to property or the premises while carrying out the theft.

Possible Defenses

  • Good faith belief of ownership or right to possess the property
  • Consent given by the property owner
  • Involuntary intoxication
Note: While entrapment serves as a defense in some states, Florida has specifically enacted statutes that preclude the defense unless law enforcement actions would not have induced participation by an ordinary, law-abiding person.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Florida Theft Laws: Related Resources

Get a Free Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Match

There are several possible defenses that may be available to you to help either reduce or eliminate the theft case against you. You won’t know until you speak with a skilled Florida defense attorney, however. The good news is that you can have an attorney review your case initially for free and at no obligation. Start today with a free case review.

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