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Theft Law in Florida

Theft law generally refers to crimes involving the unauthorized taking or use of another person’s property. Florida theft law is broad and covers various property crimes under its theft statute. This includes grand theft or felony theft charges and petit theft or misdemeanor theft charges. The consequences of being arrested and convicted for theft can be many and lifelong. It is important to hire a theft lawyer that you trust to provide assistance in navigating the court process, and to help you achieve the best outcome possible.

Theft Lawyer Tampa

Attorney Chris Beardslee is an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer serving the Tampa Bay area. He is dedicated to not only providing the best legal advice and defense for your specific case, but also to making sure that you are informed about the process and your legal options along the way. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your case or any current charges our office is happy to help.

Contact The Law Office of Chris Beardslee for a free consultation today. Call 813-496-7778 or fill out a contact form and we will get in touch with you.


Theft Defined in the Florida Statutes

In the 2022 Florida Statutes, the definition of theft under Florida law is 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 the property or a benefit from the property, OR
    • Appropriate the property to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to the use of the property.

What is the difference between Grand Theft and Petit Theft (Petty Theft) in Florida?

Grand theft and petit theft (commonly called petty theft) are classifications of theft charges based on threshold amounts and severity of the crime committed. The distinction results in the charges being punished as either a felony (grand theft) or a misdemeanor (petit theft).

Petty theft, typically stealing in an amount less than $750 in Florida, is a lower level offense punishable as a misdemeanor.

Grand theft, typically stealing in an amount of $750 or more in Florida, is a higher level offense punishable as a felony.

Both grand theft and petty theft have further distinctions within each category relating to amount stolen, type of property or services stolen, circumstances surrounding the theft, and the degree of felony or misdemeanor of the resulting charge.

Grand theft in Florida includes the following charges: grand theft in the first degree (punishable as a first degree felony), grand theft in the second degree (punishable as a second degree felony), and grand theft in third degree (punishable as a third degree felony).

Petty theft in Florida includes the following charges: petty theft in the first degree (punishable as a first degree misdemeanor) and petty theft in the second degree (punishable as a second degree misdemeanor).

Factors other than the monetary value of the property stolen that can affect the level of the resulting theft charge:

  • Use of a motor vehicle in committing the crime
  • If law enforcement equipment or property is stolen
  • If emergency medical equipment is stolen
  • If the theft is committed during a riot or state of emergency
  • If the goods stolen are defined as cargo by statute
  • If the property is taken from a home or dwelling, or from the surrounding areas (i.e. curtilage of the home)

Grand Theft in the First Degree in Florida

Grand theft of the first degree is the most serious theft charge in Florida. It is punishable as a first degree felony with penalties of up to 30 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Under Florida Statute § 812.014 (2022), first degree grand theft includes the following:

  • Theft in which the property stolen is valued at $100,000 or more
  • Committing any grand theft (i.e., any acts included in 2nd or 3rd degree grand theft), using a motor vehicle to assist in commission of the crime, and by doing so causing damage to the real property of another
    • This does not include using a motor vehicle only as a getaway vehicle
  • Committing any grand theft and in the course of doing so causing more than $1,000 of damage to the real or personal property of another
  • Theft of a semitrailer that was deployed by a law enforcement officer
  • Theft of cargo valued at more than $50,000 that has entered the stream of interstate or intrastate commerce from the shipper’s loading platform or the consignee’s receiving dock

§ 812.014(2)(a), Florida Statutes

Grand Theft in the Second Degree in Florida

In Florida, grand theft of the second degree is punishable as a second degree felony with penalties of up to 15 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Under Florida Statute § 812.014 (2022), second degree grand theft includes the following:

  • Theft in which the property stolen is valued at $20,000 or more, but less than $100,000
  • Theft of cargo valued at more than $50,000 that has entered the stream of interstate or intrastate commerce from the shipper’s loading platform or the consignee’s receiving dock
  • Theft of emergency medical equipment, valued at $300 or more, that is taken from licensed facilities, or permitted aircraft or vehicles
  • Theft of law enforcement equipment, valued at $300 or more, that is taken from an authorized emergency vehicle

§ 812.014(2)(b), Florida Statutes

Grand Theft in the Third Degree in Florida

In Florida, grand theft of the third degree is punishable as a third degree felony with penalties of up to 5 years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine.

Under Florida Statute § 812.014 (2022), third degree grand theft includes the following:

  • Theft in which the property stolen is valued at $750 or more, but less than $20,000
  • Theft of property valued at $100 or more, but less than $750, if the property is stolen from in or around someone’s home
  • Theft of a will, codicil, or other testamentary instrument
  • Theft of a firearm
  • Theft of a motor vehicle (except under the circumstances listed above for first degree grand theft)
  • Theft of a commercially farmed animal, a bee colony of a registered bee keeper, and aquaculture species raised at a certified aquaculture facility
    • In these cases, a $10,000 fine is imposed
  • Theft of a fire extinguisher that was installed for fire prevention and control
    • This does not include a fire extinguisher stolen from inventory
  • Theft of citrus fruit in any amount of 2,000 or more individual pieces of fruit
  • Theft of property taken from a designated construction site
  • Theft of a stop sign
  • Theft of anhydrous ammonia
  • Theft of a controlled substance
    • Separate judgments and sentences for theft, possession of a controlled substance, and trafficking in a controlled substance may be imposed when all offenses involve the same amount of the controlled substance

§ 812.014(2)(c-d), Florida Statutes


Petit (Petty) Theft in the First Degree in Florida

In Florida, petty theft of the first degree is punishable as a first degree misdemeanor with penalties of up to 1 year’s imprisonment and up to a $1,000 fine.

Under Florida Statute § 812.014 (2022), first degree petty theft includes the following:

  • Theft of property valued at $100 or more, but less than $750 (except under the circumstances for third degree grand theft above, when taken from a home)

§ 812.014(2)(e), Florida Statutes

Petit (Petty) Theft in the Second Degree in Florida

In Florida, petty theft of the second degree is punishable as a second degree misdemeanor with penalties of up to 60 days jail time and up to a $500 fine.

Under Florida Statute § 812.014 (2022), second degree petty theft includes the following:

  • Theft of any property not specified as either grand theft or petit theft above

§ 812.014(3)(a), Florida Statutes


Sentences and Punishments for a Theft Conviction in Florida

A theft conviction can have serious consequences. Some possible punishments for committing theft in Florida include jail or prison sentences, monetary penalties such as fines or restitution to the victim, and consequences for your criminal record.

Possible jail or prison sentences and fines are listed below:

  • Petit theft of the Second Degree
    • A misdemeanor of the second degree can result in a sentence of up to 60 days of jail time and a $500 fine
  • Petit theft of the first degree
    • A misdemeanor of the second degree can result in a sentence of up to one year’s imprisonment and a $1,000 fine
  • Grand Theft of the Third Degree
    • A felony of the third degree can result in a sentence of up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine not to exceed $5,000.
  • Grand Theft of the Second Degree
    • A felony of the second degree can result in a sentence of up to 15 years imprisonment and a fine of no more than $10,000.
  • Grand Theft of the First Degree
    • A first-degree felony can result in a sentence of up to 30 years imprisonment and a fine up to $10,000.

§§ 812.014, 775.082, 775.083, 775.084, Florida Statutes


Enhanced Punishments for Theft Charges in Florida

There are certain instances in Florida where the penalties for a theft conviction are increased based on the circumstances surrounding the crime. These include increased penalties for repeat or habitual offenders, and for stealing property from a person 65 years of age or older.

Repeat Petit Theft Offender

For a person who has prior theft convictions, new petit theft charges in Florida can be bumped up to a higher degree.

One Prior Theft Conviction

If you commit a petty theft and have previously been convicted of any theft, the offense will be charged as a misdemeanor of the first degree. This means that a petty theft offense that would normally be classified as petty theft of the second degree and punished as a second degree misdemeanor, will now be punished as a first degree misdemeanor instead, due to the prior conviction.

Multiple Prior Theft Convictions

If you have been convicted two times or more of any theft, any new petit theft offense will be charged as a third degree felony.

Habitual Felony Theft Offenders

A third felony conviction can result in a longer prison term.

A first degree felony can be punished by life in prison.

A second degree felony can be punished by up to a 30 year prison sentence.

A third degree felony can be punished by up to a 10 year prison sentence.

Theft From Persons 65 Years of Age or Older

In Florida, theft committed against a person 65 years of age or older can result in the charge being reclassified and punished more seriously as a felony of a higher degree than would ordinarily be charged.

Whenever a person charged with theft against a person 65 years of age or older, knows or has reason to to believe that the victim was 65 years old or older, the following enhancements in punishment apply:

  • If the funds, assets, or property is valued at $50,000 or more, the crime is a first degree felony
  • If the funds, assets, or property is valued at $10,000 or more, but less than $50,000, the crime is a second degree felony
  • If the funds, assets, or property is valued at $300 or more, but less than $10,000, the crime is a third degree felony.

In addition to the more serious charge, if the theft from an elderly victim is of more than $1,000, the offender must pay restitution to the victim and perform up to 500 hours of community service.

§§ 812.014, 812.0145, 775.082, 775.083, 775.084, Florida Statutes