What are the differences between petit theft and grand theft charges in Florida?

A man is stealing a woman's iPhone from her purse in a Fort Lauderdale Park. Depending on the phone, the man could be found guilty of either a petit theft misdemeanor or a grand theft felony.The scary thing about petit theft and grand theft crimes in South Florida is that $1 - yes, literally $1 - could make all the difference in whether or not the person who allegedly committed a theft crime will be charged with a misdemeanor or felony theft crime. 

 

The differences between petit theft charges and grand theft charges in Florida primarily has to do with the value of the items which were stolen (or even attempted to be stolen), but there are also differences with the crimes when it comes to penalties and consequences if convicted, as well.

 

The value of the items stolen must be based on fair market value in Florida, which is up to the Florida State Prosecutors to determine and figure out. They cannot simply assume that the replacement value (what it would cost to return the stolen item with a new item of the same nature) is the same as the value of the item which was stolen. 

 

The difference - in whether or not someone is charged with a misdemeanor petit theft charge in Florida, or a felony grand theft charge in Florida - is determined by the value of the goods that were stolen. 

 

If the value of the goods stolen is less than $750 then you will be charged with petit theft crime in Florida. If the value of the goods is $750 or more than $750, then you’ll be charged with grand theft crime in Florida.

Petit theft is a misdemeanor charge, whereas grand theft is a felony charge and carries much harsher punishments.

 

Petit Theft Penalties in Florida

Second degree Petit Theft (stolen property value less than $100)

  • Up to 60 days in jail
  • Up to a $500 fine

First-degree Petit Theft (stolen property value between $100 and $749)

  • Up to one year in jail
  • Up to a $1,000 fine

*If convicted of any theft crime twice, the defendant will then be charged with an elevated third-degree felony.

 

**Attempted theft is still considered a completed theft in Florida. It doesn't matter if you had a change of heart and gave back the goods you were planning on stealing - you're still in for the same charges as if you had actually stolen them.

 

Grand Theft Penalties in Florida

Third-degree Grand Theft (stolen property valued between $750 and 19,999)

  • Up to 5 years in prison
  • Up to a $5,000 fine  

Second-degree Grand Theft (stolen property valued between $20,000 and $99,999)

  • Up to 15 years in prison
  • Up to a $10,000 fine

First-degree Grand Theft (stolen property valued at $100,000 or more)

  • Up to 30 years in prison
  • Up to a $10,000 fine

With theft, $1 can make all the difference…

Theft is an area of the law in which people can be punished very differently for committing the same exact crime, because it’s the value amount of an item that makes all the difference, not the item itself.

 

For example, let’s say two women each stole a purse from a store. Technically they committed the exact same crime. However, one of the women stole a purse from TJMaxx that cost $149, whereas the other woman stole a purse from Gucci that cost $750. The woman who went to TJMaxx would be charged with petit theft where the maximum penalty would be up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. But the woman who stole from Gucci would be charged with grand theft, and would be looking at up to up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

 

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