Taking someone else’s property without their consent isn’t just wrong—it’s also illegal. Many states, including Florida, refer to this crime as “theft,” but other states refer to it as “larceny.” The two terms are interchangeable.
Larceny is one of the most common crimes in Florida. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), nearly 400,000 theft offenses were reported in 2018. In addition, over 65,000 arrests for theft were made during this time period.
If you are arrested for larceny, it’s important to work with a Tampa criminal defense attorney who can help you understand your charges. Is larceny a misdemeanor or felony? What penalties will you face if you are convicted? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and more.
What Constitutes Larceny in Florida?
The law defines larceny as the crime of knowingly obtaining or using someone else’s property with the intent to temporarily or permanently:
- Deprive the property owner of the right to the property.
- Take the property for your own use or for the use of another person who is not authorized to use the property.
If you take this action, you can be arrested and charged with theft.
What Are the Different Types of Theft?
The law outlines a number of different degrees of theft crimes. Some larceny crimes are felonies, whereas others are misdemeanors. For this reason, the type of charge you will face will depend on the degree of larceny you are accused of committing.
Theft crimes are categorized as either grand theft or petit theft depending on the type of property stolen and the value of the property that was stolen.
What is Grand Theft?
There are three degrees of grand theft crimes in Florida: first degree grand theft, second degree grand theft, and third degree grand theft.
The charge you will face will depend primarily on the value of the stolen property as follows:
- If the value of the stolen property is $100,000 or more, you will face first degree grand theft charges.
- If the value of the stolen property is $20,000 or more but less than $100,000, you will face second degree grand theft charges.
- If the value of the stolen property is $750 or more but less than $20,000, you will face third degree grand theft charges.
Sometimes, the charge you will face will depend on the type of property stolen rather than the value of the property. For example, if you steal property from a construction site, you will face third degree grand theft charges regardless of the value of the property.
Is Grand Theft A Felony or Misdemeanor?
All three degrees of grand theft crimes are classified as felonies in the state of Florida.
First degree grand theft is the most serious of all theft crimes. This offense is a first degree felony, which is punishable by up to 30 years in prison in addition to hefty fines.
Second degree grand theft is a second degree felony, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Finally, third degree grand theft is a third degree felony, which is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
What is Petit Theft?
There are two degrees of petit theft offenses in Florida: first degree petit theft and second degree petit theft. Like grand theft, petit theft offenses are classified by the value of the stolen property.
- If the value of the stolen property is $100 or more but less than $750, you will face first degree petit theft charges.
- If the value of the stolen property is less than $100, you will face second degree petit theft charges.
Is Petit Theft A Misdemeanor or Felony?
Both first degree and second degree petit theft offenses are misdemeanors in the state of Florida.
First degree petit theft is a first degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in jail in addition to a maximum fine of $1,000.
Second degree petit theft is the least serious of all theft crimes. This offense is a second degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 60 days in jail as well as $500 in fines.
How Can You Fight Theft Charges?
Theft is a highly defensible charge. In other words, it is possible to beat theft charges and avoid a conviction. Some of the many defense strategies that your criminal defense attorney in Tampa may use include:
- Misidentification: You were misidentified as the person who committed the crime.
- Lack of intent: You did not intend on using the property or depriving the owner of the property, so you did not actually commit theft.
- Value of the property: Your attorney may be able to get your charges reduced by questioning the value of the property. If successful, this strategy could help you avoid the most serious legal penalties.
- Misunderstanding: You were not aware that the property that you took was not yours. Because you did not knowingly take someone else’s property, you did not commit theft.
- Owner’s authorization: The owner gave you permission to take or use the property, so you were not committing theft.
Each case is unique, so the approach that your attorney decides to take will depend on the details of your case. Let your attorney review your case to determine the most effective strategy to implement to fight your charges.
Schedule A Free Consultation With A Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Have you been charged with larceny in the state of Florida? If so, it’s in your best interest to seek legal representation from a criminal defense attorney at Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett. Our team of criminal defense attorneys have collectively represented over 15,000 clients in the most complex of cases.
Don’t hesitate to contact our law firm to schedule a free consultation regarding your criminal case. Call now to arrange your meeting today.