Theft Attorneys in Ocala, Florida
Being convicted of theft in Florida can result in serious consequences. Not only will a convicted person likely face a fine, jail or prison time, and probation, but they will also have a criminal record that will haunt them going forward. Getting a job, obtaining public benefits, and even leasing a residence may prove difficult, if not impossible, with a criminal record.
There are different variations of theft under Florida law, including petit (commonly called petty) theft, grand theft, and shoplifting. Each carries a set of penalties usually tied to the value of the goods or other valuables taken illicitly.
If you are being investigated for any form of theft, or have already faced a charge anywhere in or around Ocala, Florida, contact the criminal defense team at Defend Ocala. We care about you, your rights, and your future and will fight for justice in your case. Be sure to reach out to us before you answer any questions police or prosecutors may pose. We’ll represent you from start to finish.
Our team proudly serves clients throughout Marion and Lake Counties, including Clermont, Leesburg, Tavares, and Eustis, Florida.
Understanding Theft Charges in Florida
Most people probably equate theft with the act of physically taking something of value from someone else, like running away with a woman’s purse that was next to her in a restaurant or at least taking some form of real property that belongs to someone else. Theft, however, can also involve intangible assets, such as someone else’s retirement benefits or it can involve the use of deceit, trickery, lies, and embezzlement rather than a physical act.
According to Florida Statutes Section 812.014:
“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 a right to the property or a benefit from the property.
Appropriate the property to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to the use of the property.”
Types of Theft
The theft statutes in Florida govern three major forms -- petit theft, grand theft, and shoplifting. Let’s look at how these are defined in basic terms:
PETIT THEFT: Commonly referred to as petty theft, petit theft involves the taking of property up to $750 in value. Petit theft in the second degree can be charged when the property is worth less than $100. Petit theft in the first degree involves property valued from $100 up to $750. Both are misdemeanors.
GRAND THEFT: Again, this category is divided by the value of property or assets illegally taken. Grand theft of the third degree involves property valued at $750 or more but less than $20,000. It also covers the theft of anything valued between $100 and $750 if taken from someone’s home. Grand theft of the second degree involves property valued between $20,000 and $100,000 (but there are additional categories as well). Grand theft in the first degree is for property valued at $100,000 or more, but again additional categories of property taken are included in the full statute. All three of these offenses are felonies.
SHOPLIFTING: Florida Statutes define shoplifting 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.” Shoplifting can be charged as petit or grand theft, depending on the value of what’s illegally taken.
Petty theft is a misdemeanor. Petty theft in the second degree can result in up to 60 days in jail and a possible $500 fine. Petty theft in the first degree raises the ante, and anyone convicted can face up to a year’s imprisonment and a fine of up to $1,000.
All forms of grand theft are felonies, so the consequences are much more severe. Third-degree grand theft can land the convicted in prison for up to five years, along with a fine not to exceed $5,000. Grand theft in the second degree can result in 15 years behind bars and a fine of up to $10,000. Grand theft in the first degree has the potential for 30 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
These penalties can increase if the convicted is a repeat or habitual offender or if the victim is an elderly person 65 or older.
If you’re facing a petty or grand theft charge, there is always the universal defense that your rights were violated when arrested – perhaps they failed to read you your Miranda Rights -- or that police lacked probable cause to take you in. You can also claim you were a victim of entrapment.
If matters go to trial, one argument is that you, the defendant, honestly believed you had a right to maintain ownership over the allegedly stolen property. You can also argue that you lacked the intent to steal the item and that it was a mistaken act. Also, you can conclude that you were intoxicated or high on a substance and had no intent to commit theft. Lastly, you can dispute the value of the property taken to reduce the charge or maybe even dropped.
Theft Attorneys Serving Ocala, Florida
Theft crimes are taken seriously in Florida. That’s why it’s essential to seek the help of experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys from the moment of your arrest. If you’re facing a theft investigation or charge in or around Ocala, Florida, reach out to our legal defense team at Defend Ocala immediately. We will protect your rights and fight for justice in your case.