Theft Laws in Florida: The Line Between Misdemeanor and Felony

The state of Florida is notorious for having strict anti-theft laws. It was only just recently that the threshold for grand theft was raised from a meager $300 to $750 — the first time it was raised in 35 years. But despite this needed adjustment, the nuances of theft laws in Florida can easily result in an accused being charged with a felony and unprepared to defend themselves in court. 

Below, we discuss how Florida categorizes theft and where the line between a misdemeanor and felony charge lies. Even if no one was hurt in the incident, even if the property was amassed over a long period of time, these laws are designed to significantly punish those who commit theft. Consult a criminal defense lawyer in Tampa if you need assistance. 

Theft, Robbery, and Related Crimes

Under Florida law, “A person commits theft if he or she 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 their property or appropriate the property for their own or someone else’s use. The severity of theft goes all the way from petit theft (a second-degree misdemeanor) to first-degree grand theft (a first-degree felony). 

Related: Uncertain Times May Lead to More Wrongful Convictions 

The line between misdemeanor and felony is crossed with third-degree grand theft. A person can be charged with grand theft if the stolen property is valued between $750 and $20,000, a firearm, a motor vehicle, or any number of other items listed in the Florida statute. 

Retail Theft 

Florida law defines retail theft as “the taking possession of or carrying away of merchandise, property, money, or negotiable documents; altering or removing a label, universal product code, or price tag; transferring merchandise from one container to another; or removing a shopping cart, with intent to deprive the merchant of possession, use, benefit, or full retail value.” Like grand theft, retail theft is considered a third-degree felony when the value of the stolen property is $750 or more. But there is one clear distinction: the value of the stolen property can be aggregated within a 30-day period, meaning that a person can still be charged with a felony if the value of property stolen in one month adds up to $750 — one of the many reasons why it’s important to consult one of our criminal defense attorneys in Tampa if you’ve been accused of retail theft. 

Related: Can Your Criminal Sentence Be Reduced or Modified? 

Aggravating Circumstances 

In cases where the accused is charged with grand theft, retail theft, and even petit theft, there can be what are known as aggravating circumstances that can result in more severe penalties. For instance, petit theft is usually not considered a felony; however, a person who has previously been convicted of theft two or more times and commits petit theft can face a third-degree felony conviction. Although the laws discussed throughout this article provide a basic understanding of theft laws in Florida, the specifics of a person’s case can drastically alter the severity of the charge and punishment. 

This is why it’s so important to consult a criminal defense lawyer in Tampa if you’ve been accused of theft. An experienced attorney can review the specifics of your case and work to have your charges reduced or dropped, regardless of the type of theft you’ve been accused of. 

For a free consultation with one of our criminal defense attorneys in Tampa, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

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. 


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