Theft and Property Crimes

There are several laws on the books in Florida that are designed to protect people's property and personal belongings. These laws involve criminal prosecution for the theft of, damaging of, destruction of or intrusion upon other people's property.

Conviction of any of these crimes may lead to prison time and fines. It could also lead to the requirement that you pay court-ordered restitution, even if you were not aware of the value of the property stolen or damaged. In addition, you will have a criminal record that will lead others, including potential employers, to believe you cannot be trusted. You may have a very difficult time finding a job that requires you to be trusted with cash or anything valuable.

West Palm Beach Theft Lawyer

If you face charges for theft, burglary, criminal mischief or any type of property crime, the dedicated team at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. can represent you. We will seek to have your charges reduced or dismissed, and will passionately fight for your rights, no matter what the charge.

As a former prosecutor and former public defender, we came together as a team to bring our experience to those facing criminal accusations in Palm Beach County courts. Have a skilled West Palm Beach theft and property crime defense lawyer on your side.

Call us today at (561) 945-8484 to set up a free consultation. We are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week. We represent clients in Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Boca Raton, Belle Glade, Palm Beach Gardens, Juno Beach, Jupiter, Royal Palm Beach, Wellington and anywhere else who are charged in a Palm Beach County court.

We also represent clients in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties.

Overview of South Florida Theft and Property Crime Charges

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Charges for Theft in Palm Beach County

The severity of theft charges, under Florida Statutes Annotated § 812.014, depends on the value of the property that prosecutors can prove was stolen.

"Petit theft," sometimes called "petty theft," is a misdemeanor that involves the theft of property worth $300 or less. Petit theft is a second degree misdemeanor if the value was $100 or less, and a first degree misdemeanor if the property is worth between $100 and $300.

Grand theft involves property worth more than $300, or property that fits into one of several categories. If the property fits into one of the categories for grand theft, it does not matter what the value is. Grand theft is a felony.

  • Third Degree Felony: Property worth between $300 and $20,000, any motor vehicle (grand theft auto), firearms or controlled substances
  • Second Degree Felony: Property worth between $20,000 and $100,000, law enforcement or emergency medical equipment
  • First Degree Felony: Property worth more than $100,000

Florida law also includes the charge of retail theft. Retail theft, under Florida Statutes Annotated § 812.015, involves theft from a merchant where theft prevention countermeasures were used, multiple establishments were hit in a 24-hour period, items were put intentionally into an incorrect container or other methods were used to steal from stores. It is a third degree felony.

Dealing in stolen property means trafficking, or selling or transporting, property that the accused knew or should have known was stolen. It is a second degree felony under Florida Statutes Annotated § 812.019. Organizing, managing, financing or directing the trafficking of stolen goods is a first degree felony.

If you have any prior theft conviction, a subsequent conviction will be one grade higher. For instance, if you are accused of grand theft auto and have a prior petit theft conviction, you will be charged with a  second degree felony instead of a third degree felony.

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Other Property Crimes Under Florida Law

Burglary (Florida Statutes Annotated § 810.02) means entering or remaining in a building without consent with the intent to commit a crime. The crime is often theft, but can be any offense. If the building was unoccupied at the time of the offense, it is a third degree felony. If occupied, the offense is a second degree felony. If the offender was armed, it is a first degree felony.

Burglary may be charged as a burglary of a structure, burglary of a dwelling or burglary of a conveyance (such as a vehicle). It any part of a person's body enters the structure, it may be charged. For instance, a "smash and grab," where a person breaks a car window and reaches inside to pull something out, may be charged as burglary of a conveyance.

Criminal trespass (Florida Statutes Annotated §§ 810.08-810.97) is a lesser charge if a person enters or stays on property after being warned to leave. If the property is unoccupied, it is a second degree misdemeanor. If occupied, it is a first degree misdemeanor, and if the defendant was armed, it is a third degree felony. If a "No Trespassing" sign was posted, the sign provides sufficient warning under the law.

Arson (Florida Statutes Annotated § 806.01) means illegally destroying or damaging a building or the property of another with explosives or fire willfully or during the commission of another felony. It is a second degree felony if the building was not occupied and a first degree felony if it was.

Criminal mischief (Florida Statutes Annotated § 806.13) means willfully and maliciously damaging or destroying the property of another. This includes public property, like bridges and street signs. Criminal mischief includes acts of vandalism, like graffiti. It is a second degree misdemeanor if the damage was valued at less than $200, a first degree misdemeanor if the property was worth between $200 and $1,000 and a third degree felony if the property was valued at above $1,000.

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Consequences of Theft and Property Crime Convictions

  • First Degree Felony: Up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
  • Second Degree Felony: Up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
  • Third Degree Felony: Up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000
  • First Degree Misdemeanor: Up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000
  • Second Degree Misdemeanor: Up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500

Additionally, you may be ordered to pay restitution, or the value or the property stolen or damaged.

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Finding a Property Crime Defense Attorney in Palm Beach County

If you face any type of charges for theft or offenses that involve the destruction or illegal intrusion of another's property, your future could be on the line. The dedicated team at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. will fight for you. You will always have an experienced partner on your case. It will never be handed down to a less-experienced associate. Call (561) 945-8484 today to talk to us about your Palm Beach County charges.

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