Florida Auto Theft Laws

Created by FindLaw's team of attorney writers and editors.

Images associated with auto theft are often filled with expensive luxury cars. However, there are many instances where more conventional and less expensive models are targeted. Whether you nab a sporty convertible parked in South Beach or a beat-up jalopy in Orlando, if you steal a car in Florida, you will face identical charges. Without regard to the actual value of the cars, you will essentially have the same punishment.

Florida's auto theft laws are found within the state's theft statute. Specifically, the offense is classified as grand theft of a motor vehicle. To be guilty of this offense, you must take an individual's property with the intent to:

  • Deprive that individual of a right to their property or the benefit of their property; or
  • Take the property for personal use or for the use of another person not entitled to use the property.

Third Degree Felony

Whenever you take a car under the circumstances described in the statute, you've committed a felony in the third degree. If you are convicted of a third degree felony, you can get a maximum sentence of five years in prison, probation, or a fine of up to $5000.

You can face a more serious charge if the auto theft is elevated through the use of force. For example, if you take someone's motor vehicle with the use of violence or force, or by invoking fear in that individual, then this would be considered carjacking under the Florida statute. Typically when force is used, a weapon of some kind is present. This is another crucial element that can increase the charges and the severity of the penalties.

Florida Auto Theft Laws at a Glance

The chart below provides a summary of laws related to Florida's auto theft laws, including links to important code sections.

Statute

Penalties and Sentencing

Grand larceny in the third degree

  • A felony in the third degree is punishable by up to five years in prison.
  • Because there is no minimum mandatory sentence, probation is a possibility.
  • Fines (up to $5000)

Defenses

  • Consent
  • Mistake of fact
  • Lack of intent -- the defendant has a right to the property

Related Offense

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 Auto Theft Laws: Related Resources

Talk to an Attorney about Your Auto Theft Case

If you've been accused of violating Florida's auto theft laws, then you should consider talking to an experienced attorney who can help you understand the evidence against you as well as your options going forward. There are Florida criminal defense attorneys in your area who understand the complexity of the state's theft laws and are ready to help. Reach out to one today to learn more.

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