Jacksonville Theft Defense Attorney
In Florida, the seriousness of “Theft” offenses, whether they are classified as misdemeanors or felonies, is typically a function of the value of the items or money taken. That said, beyond jail time theft offenses can have a significant impact on one’s life moving forward. For instance, theft crimes are enhanceable offenses which means if a person has two prior theft convictions a new charge of theft can be charged as a felony regardless of the value of the taking. Furthermore, even a misdemeanor theft conviction can be used to erode your credibility as a witness in a trial.
So if you’ve been charged with theft or a theft-related crime, it’s in your best interest to speak with an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At Lufrano Legal, P.A., we know what’s at stake when you’re facing a charge of theft. We also know that criminal prosecutions can move quickly, and you can miss out on opportunities to defend yourself if you don’t know the deadlines and procedural requirements.
That’s why we offer free consultations to people facing criminal charges in and around Jacksonville.
Theft in Florida
The basic elements of theft in Florida are:
- A person knowingly obtains, uses (or attempts to obtain or use) property of another with the intent to:
- Temporarily or permanently deprive the other person of a right to or benefit from the property, or
- Appropriate the property to his or her own use or the use of another person who is not entitled to it
However, as mentioned earlier the degree of theft a person is charged with will depend on the value of the item or funds taken. Now as you might expect the greater the value of the taking the more serious the charge and the higher the potential penalties. These theft variations include:
- Grand theft in the first degree: Theft of property valued at $100,000 or more is typically charged as grand theft in the first degree, which is a first-degree felony. A first-degree felony is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
- Grand theft in the second degree: Theft of property valued at $20,000 or more but less than $100,000 is typically charged as grand theft in the second degree, a second-degree felony. A second-degree felony is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
- Grand theft in the third degree: Theft of property valued at $750 or more but less than $20,000 is typically charged as grand theft in the third degree, a third-degree felony. A third-degree felony is punishable by up to five years in prison.
- Petit theft in the first degree: Theft of property valued at $100 or more but less than $750 is typically charged as a petit theft in the first degree, a first-degree misdemeanor. A first-degree misdemeanor carries a sentence of up to one year in jail.
- Petit theft in the second degree: Any theft not falling into one of the categories above, including theft of property valued at less than $100, is typically charged as petit theft in the second degree. As a second degree misdemeanor, the charge carries a maximum sentence of 60 days.
It’s important to note that certain specific types of property and other factors change the classification of a theft crime. For example, any grand theft crime, regardless of property value, is elevated to grand theft in the first degree if the defendant causes property damage in excess of $1,000 during the commission of the crime. And, theft of law enforcement equipment from an emergency vehicle is grand theft in the second degree if the property is valued at $300 or more.
The Florida theft statute includes pages of exceptions and classification enhancements like these. Your theft defense attorney will be able to explain any variables that impact your charges.
Some states have specific statutes addressing shoplifting. Florida does not. Instead, retail theft is charged under the general theft statute, based on the value of the property and any other applicable factors. If you’ve been with retail theft, one of our experienced shoplifting lawyers can explain your charges, the possible consequences, and your possible defenses in greater detail.
Fighting Theft Charges in Florida
When you retain a defense attorney at Lufrano Legal, P.A., your attorney will thoroughly assess the case against you for witnesses and explore all possible defenses. Some of these defenses may be specific to the crime of theft, while others may be more general or procedural.
In any criminal case, it is the prosecutor’s burden to prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. In a theft case, that means the prosecutor must prove:
- That the defendant knew they were obtaining, using (or attempting to obtain or use) the property of another AND
- That the defendant intended to deprive someone else of the property or to appropriate it to their own use or someone else’s
If the classification of the crime is based on a specific property type, value, or special circumstance such as property damage, the prosecutor is also required to prove the value of the taking beyond a reasonable doubt.
This means, for example, that a shopper who unintentionally goes through the checkout line without paying for a costly item on the bottom of the cart and is arrested in the parking lot before noticing the item isn’t guilty of theft. And, the burden of proof is on the prosecutor. That means the theft defense attorney and a defendant don’t have to prove anything. However, an experienced theft defense attorney will certainly take steps at a trial to demonstrate to a jury the presence of reasonable doubt.
Other Approaches to Fighting Theft Charge
In addition to attacking the proof of one or more elements of the crime, your theft lawyer may take steps prior to trial to challenge the evidence the prosecution has against you. For example, your attorney may argue that such evidence was illegally obtained and ask the court to suppress any evidence found during that illegal search. If evidence is suppressed, the case doesn’t technically have to be dismissed. But, if key evidence is excluded from the trial, the prosecution may be unable to prove its case.
Talk to a Florida Theft Defense Lawyer
Successfully fighting theft charges requires in-depth knowledge of both substantive law and the procedural requirements of the criminal justice system. The law firm of Lufrano Legal, P.A. has extensive experience representing criminal defendants in and around Duval County. To learn more about how we can help, schedule a free consultation right now. Just call 904-513-3905 or fill out the contact form on this site.