In Florida, “theft” is a broad category covering a wide range of potential crimes. It is easy to get this confused with crimes like robbery or burglary, but the crimes and potential penalties can vary dramatically based on what the prosecution charges. It is important for those facing any of these potential charges to know what they are and what the prosecution must prove at trial.
Definition of Theft under Florida Law
“Theft” under Florida law (Florida Statutes Sec. 812.014) is a general term that involves the unauthorized taking or use of someone else’s property, without the intent to return it.
To charge and convict a person of theft, the prosecutor must prove the defendant specifically intended to take or use someone’s property with intent to “permanently deprive” them of it. If a case goes to trial, the prosecution may use video surveillance and camera footage, receipts (or lack thereof), witness testimony, circumstantial evidence to show the defendant took property willfully and with intent to keep it.
Within the category of theft in Florida are two subcategories: Petit Theft and Grand Theft.
Petit Theft involves the stealing of property worth between $100 and $300, and is charged as a misdemeanor. Penalties will usually include fines, a potentially short jail sentence, and return of the stolen property (or value of the same).
Grand Theft involves takings of property worth more than $300, and can be charged as a felony.
Theft can occur just about anywhere, for any number of reasons, and can involve a wide range of property.
Definition of Robbery Under Florida Law
Robbery, under Florida law (Florida Statutes Sec. 812.13) involves an attempt to permanently take property or money from another while using “force, violence, assault, or putting in fear”.
As with theft, robbery involves an intent to permanently deprive a person of some property or money. However, it includes an additional showing that there was some type of force, violence, or assaultive behavior used in the taking. Robbery is a second degree felony in Florida, unless a weapon was used – then it becomes a first degree felony.
Definition of Burglary under Florida Law
Burglary, as defined within Florida Statutes Sec. 810.02, is a property crime involving the entry or occupation of another person’s premises with intent to undertake illegal activity. The premises may include a dwelling where someone resides, a structure such as a business or warehouse, or conveyance (such as a boat) under Florida law.
To charge and convict a person of burglary, prosecutors must prove the defendant entered the property with specific intent to engage in unlawful activity (often theft, for example). They must also show the defendant entered the property without the owner’s permission, or without the owner’s permission to be there at that particular time.
Burglary is a felony in Florida, and can be upgraded to a first degree felony if the person carried a dangerous weapon or committed an assault or battery during the incident.
If You Have Been Charged with Theft, Robbery, or Burglary, the Tampa Criminal Defense Attorneys at Trombley & Hanes May Be Able to Help
It is not always clear what constitutes these property crimes, even to those who face charges. That is why it is critical to have an experienced defense team to evaluate your case and determine the defense strategy. At Trombley & Hanes, our Tampa criminal attorneys know how confusing and complicated a criminal charge can be. If you face any type of criminal charge involving theft, burglary, or robbery and have questions about what comes next, call our office today at 813-229-7918, or visit our firm online.