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Theft and Property Crimes

The state of Florida has strict laws designed to protect other’s property and personal belongings from thieves. Violating these laws will mean harsh penalties including expensive fines in the thousands and possibly time in jail or even prison. In addition, many theft offenders are ordered to pay restitution costs to the victim in conjunction to their court fees.

If you or someone you know has been charged with theft or another type of property crime, then it’s within your best interest to gain legal representation. A theft conviction carries heavy penalties and the consequences of a criminal record will follow you long after your trial ends. Many people with theft convictions have issues applying for loans, housing or getting admitted into the university of their choice. Find out what you can do to protect your rights and future by contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney.

West Palm Beach Attorney for Theft Charges in Florida

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) 557-8686 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.

Overview of Theft and Property Charges in FL


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What is Theft Under Florida Law?

Knowingly taking another’s property or the attempt to deprive them of their property is a crime with serious penalties. Florida defines theft under Florida Statutes Section 812.014, which states a person commits theft if he or she knowingly obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or use, the property of another with the intent to, either temporarily or permanently:

  • Deprive the owner of their right to the property or the property’s benefits;
  • Appropriate the property to their own use or to use of any person who was not the original owner of the property

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What Are the Penalties for Grand Theft in Florida?

The penalties for theft heavily depend on the property stolen and its value. The crime of theft is a first-degree felony if you committed any of the following acts:

  • Stole property valued at $100,000 or more;
  • Stole a semitrailer deployed by law enforcement;
  • If the property stolen was cargo valued at $50,000 or more and entered the stream of interstate or intrastate commerce from the shipping loading platform to the consignee’s receiving dock;
  • You commit grand theft and in the course of committing the crime you:
    • Used a motor vehicle to getaway or assist in committing the offense and thereby damaging real property during the crime; or
    • Caused damage to real or personal property in excess of $1,000

Under Florida law, “grand theft” is defined as any intentional or unlawful taking of property that is valued at $300 or more.

Grand theft in the first-degree maximum penalties include:

  • Up to 30 years in prison; and
  • A fine of up to $10,000

You will be charged with grand theft in the third-degree if you stole any of the following:

  • Property valuing at $20,000 or more, but less than $100,000;
  • The property stolen was cargo valued at less than $50,000 and entered the stream of interstate or intrastate commerce from the shipping loading platform to the consignee’s receiving dock;
  • The property stolen was emergency medical equipment valued at $300 or more and was taken from a medical facility or from an aircraft or vehicle for lawful medical equipment transportation; or
  • The property stolen was law enforcement equipment valued at $300 or more

Grand theft in the second-degree is a second-degree felony, which is punishable by:

  • Up to 15 years in prison; and
  • A fine of up to $10,000

The lightest grand theft offense under Florida law is grand theft in the third degree. You will face third-degree grand theft charges if you steal any of the following:

  • Property valued at $750 or more, but less than $5,000;
  • Property valued at $5,000 or more, but less than $10,000;
  • Property valued at $10,000 or more, but less than $20,000;
  • A will, codicil or other testamentary instrument;
  • A firearm;
  • A motor vehicle;
  • A commercially farmed animal raised at a certified aquaculture facility, registered beekeeper, or grazing animal from farmers;
  • Fire extinguishers installed to a building for fire prevention and control;
  • Any amount of citrus fruit consisting of 2,000 or more pieces of fruit;
  • Signs taken from a designated construction sight;
  • Any stop sign;
  • Anhydrous ammonia; or
  • Controlled substances that are considered prescriptions for another person

Grand theft in the third degree is a third-degree felony. The penalties for conviction include:

  • Up to 5 years in prison; and
  • A fine of up to $5,000; or
  • A fine of up to $10,000 if you stole an animal from a certified facility

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What Are the Penalties for Petit Theft in Florida?

Petit theft is any type of property stolen that is valued up to $750. You could be charged with first-degree petit theft if you stole property that was more than $100, but less than $750. If convicted, you could face a first-degree misdemeanor that carries the following penalties:

  • Up to one year in jail; and
  • A fine of up to $1,000

Theft of any property not specified by the grand theft statute listed above is considered petit theft in the second-degree. You will face a second-degree misdemeanor for the crime which can result in the following maximum penalties:

  • Up to 60 days in jail; and
  • A fine of up to $500

If you have a prior petit theft conviction and commit petit theft again, then you’ll automatically face a first-degree misdemeanor. Having two or subsequent prior convictions will mean a third-degree felony which can result in:

  • Up to 5 years in prison; and
  • A fine of up to $5,000

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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 enough 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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Florida Resources for Theft Crimes

Florida Auto Theft Intelligence Unit (FATIU) — FATIU is a statewide nonprofit organization comprised of more than 200 members which does include both law enforcement investigators, Florida Highway Patrol, rental vehicle companies, the Department of Insurance and Fraud, insurance companies and the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Learn how they investigate cases to find ways to poke holes in the prosecution’s case.

National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP) — NASP is a nonprofit organization that was originally founded in 1977 as Shoplifters Anonymous, Inc to help those who are struggling with the impulse of shoplifting. The organization focuses on the study and prevention of shoplifting tendencies in those who can’t control themselves. On this website, you can learn more about NASP’s community programs and educational services.


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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) 557-8686 today to talk to us about your Palm Beach County charges. We will set up your consultation free and discuss your charges in further detail. We protect people throughout the greater Palm Beach County area including Palm Beach, West Palm Beach and Boca Raton.


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  • Law Firm 500 Fastest Growing Law Firms In the U.S - 2017 Honoree
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