Jacksonville Grand Theft Defense Attorney
Grand theft is the most serious category of theft offenses under Florida Law. Any theft of property over $750 can be charged by the state as Grand theft. Some other specific items can trigger grand theft charges regardless of the value.
What is Theft?
Theft is defined in Florida Statues § 812.014(1) as being committed 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 or to keep for use by self or use by another who is not authorized. This essentially means 1) the perpetrator must know what they are doing, 2) they must take or use property without permission, and 3) must intend deprive the owner of use or to keep it from them for some period. The actual property alleged to be taken is what defines the degree of Grand Theft charges the state is able to pursue.
Degrees of Grand Theft in Florida
Grand Theft can be charged as Third, Second, or First degree, in increasing severity.
Grand Theft of the Third-Degree
Third-Degree Felony – Maximum 5 years of prison, 5 years of probation, and $5,000 fine
- Property valued between $750 and $20,000,
- wills or another testamentary documents,
- motor vehicles,
- farm animal,
- installed fire extinguishers,
- 2,000 or more pieces of citrus fruit,
- any property from a construction site,
- stop signs,
- anhydrous ammonia; and,
- controlled substances.
Grand Theft of the Second-Degree
Maximum 15 years of prison, 15 years of probation, and $10,000 fine
Second-Degree Felony – Maximum 5 years of prison, 5 years of probation, and $5,000 fine
- Property valued between $20,000 and $100,000,
- Looting during a declared state of emergency in a value of $5,000 to $20,000,
- Cargo which has crossed state lines, and is worth less than $50,000; and,
- Emergency equipment (medical, law enforcement, ect.) valued at over $300.
Grand Theft of the First-Degree
First-Degree Felony – Maximum 30 years of prison, 30 years of probation, and $10,000 fine
- Property over $100,000 in value – extremely valuable single items (artwork), aggregated crimes over multiple occasions, ect.,
- Law enforcement semi-truck trailer,
- Cargo in interstate commerce worth more than $50,000 – theft of a long-haul trucker’s cargo,
- Any grand theft (including second or third) is elevated to first if more than $1,000 of damaged was caused to real property, or a motor vehicle was used in the crime for a reason other than escape; and,
- Second-Degree Grand theft during an emergency – this is to prevent looting of large value items, or to deter the theft of firearms, wills, cars, ect. while everyone is focused on emergency response.
Defenses to Grand Theft Charges
- Factual Challenge – Utilized when there was another perpetrator, or the actual incident did not occur the way the government and the police are alleging it did. This usually results in a dismissal, or a jury trial, arguing to a jury that the state cannot prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Factual arguments are frequent in Grand Theft cases due to the complicated facts that the government must prove.
- Intent – Crimes require a certain state of mind, or mens rea. If a crime requires an action to have been performed voluntarily, then fighting that element can result in a not guilty verdict. Theft of a vehicle is Grand Theft, but if it can be proven that the perpetrator did not know they weren’t allowed to drive that vehicle, or it was done on accident, the charges can be dismissed or defeated at trial.
- Challenge of the Value – Evidence that a $751 allegation of theft was worth just a few dollars less, can decrease the worst possible penalties substantially. Even within the Grand Theft distinction, Florida law allows charges to be greatly mitigated if a challenge to the value is successfully made, or the state cannot prove that value at trial beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Constitutional Challenges – Theft related offenses often involve some sort of search by the police. It is easy for a police officer to accidentally violate the rights of a citizen by searching without a warrant or probable cause. An experienced defense attorney can seek to have all charges dropped in these circumstances.
Criminal Defense Lawyer in Jacksonville, FL
Lee Lockett and the members of the legal team at Lockett law serve the accused across the state of Florida from our offices in Jacksonville. Lee Lockett has decades of experience prosecuting and defending individuals accused of Grand Theft and has an expert knowledge of the laws and procedures involved. The defense team at Lockett law have the reputation and the dedication to fight for your rights and the best possible outcome in your case. Call a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney today at (904) 858-9818 or connect with our team in the chat window on the bottom right of your screen to have an open and free consultation today.