Florida Theft Crimes Defense
Theft crimes in Florida can be either misdemeanors or felonies, meaning if convicted you could be sentenced to up to a year in the county jail or multiple years in state prison and/or be hit with thousands of dollars in fines. Persons convicted of theft crimes are also often required to make restitution of property or cash. In addition, a conviction for a theft offense can cost you your job and keep you from getting employment in any position that requires honesty, trust or dealing with money, from working in a bank to running a cash register.
It’s important to get good legal advice and strong legal help when faced with any criminal charges, and theft crimes are certainly no exception. Even if you think the government has a strong case against you, they might be charging an offense that is more serious than they could prove in hopes you will plead guilty to save yourself from severe penalties like a lengthy jail sentence. You might also have defenses to the crime charged, or the police might have made procedural errors or violated your constitutional rights during a search and seizure or arrest. If the prosecution can’t prove every element of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt, then they haven’t proven their case, and you can’t be considered guilty or convicted.
The Florida criminal defense attorneys at Meldon Law are here to make sure you are treated fairly and that all your rights as a person accused of a crime are respected. We’ll evaluate your options and help you get the best result in your circumstances, whether that means negotiating a plea for probation, moving to get the charges reduced or dismissed, or fighting for you at court in a trial. Our experienced legal team has both prosecuted and defended people charged with theft crimes in Florida. We know how these cases work and how to negotiate or litigate the best outcome on your behalf.
What Is “Theft” Under Florida Law?
Florida law defines the offense of theft as knowingly obtaining or using, or endeavoring to obtain or use, the property of another with the intent to either temporarily or permanently deprive the other person of their right to the property or a benefit from the property, or appropriate the property for personal use or the use of any person not entitled to the use of the property.
Theft is further divided into two categories, grand theft and petty theft. Grand theft involves property that is valued over $300, as well as the theft of certain listed items without regard to their value, such as drugs or firearms. Grand theft is a felony. Petty theft, on the other hand, is a misdemeanor that applies to property valued at less than $300. Petty theft can be charged as a misdemeanor of different degrees depending upon the property’s value.
Shoplifting, also known as retail theft, can be either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the item’s value. Shoplifting is defined as taking merchandise from a store without paying for it. Besides walking out with an item without paying for it, switching an item’s price tag and paying less than the correct price is a form of shoplifting.
Are There Other Theft Offenses in Florida?
Chapter 812 of Florida Statutes deals with theft, robbery and related crimes. In addition to grand theft, petty theft and shoplifting, this chapter also defines other offenses, such as:
- Farm Theft
- Transit Fare Evasion
- Possession of Altered Property
- Use of a Fraudulently Obtained or False Receipt
- Dealing in Stolen Property
- Theft of Trade Secrets
- and More
How Do You Defend Against Theft Charges?
Persons charged with theft crimes might have one or more defenses available to them. Remember that it is the prosecutor’s job to prove every element of the alleged offense beyond a reasonable doubt. A good defense attorney can raise reasonable doubt by establishing any of the following, based on the facts in your specific case:
- You intended to pay for the item but were detained before you had a chance.
- You didn’t have any intent to steal.
- There was no actual taking.
- The police or store security apprehended the wrong person.
- You believed the property lawfully belonged to you.
Also, if law enforcement violated your rights such as committing an unreasonable search and seizure, effecting an arrest without probable cause, or interrogating you without first giving you the required Miranda warnings, then your attorney should be able to get evidence excluded from the case or get the case dismissed.
A skilled defense attorney might also be able to negotiate a plea to a lesser charge or a sentence like probation that leaves you without a criminal record. Or it might be possible to get the charges dropped in exchange for returning the property. The key is to speak with an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney before you enter a plea or give a statement to the police. Meldon Law attorneys will let you know where you stand and help you get the best outcome in your given circumstances.
Practical Advice and Zealous Defense of Florida Theft Crime Charges
If you have been arrested for a theft crime in Florida, call Meldon Law at 800-373-8000 to speak with a skilled and dedicated Florida criminal defense attorney. We’ll fight for you, and we won’t back down.