Theft is a charge that can include a variety of different offenses like shoplifting and larceny. Theft charges can be complicated and different to understand, which is why it is important to speak with a theft lawyer. If you want to know more about Ft. Lauderdale theft charges, speak with a knowledgeable theft attorney that could answer your questions. A seasoned defense lawyer could build a solid case for you.
Different Types of Theft Charges
In Ft. Lauderdale and in Florida, theft is a very generic term used to describe a lot of different types of crimes. Ft. Lauderdale theft charges could include offenses like:
- Petty theft or misdemeanor theft
- Grand theft
- Dealing in stolen property
- Retail theft or shoplifting
- Theft of communication services
- False verification of ownership, or false identification to a pawnbroker
That last example occurs when somebody goes to a pawnshop and claims that they are pawning items that are theirs when that is actually false. Unlawful possession of stolen credits, exploitation of the elderly, and failing to return a hired or leased property are other examples of theft in Florida.
Elements of Theft
In Florida, a person commits theft when they knowingly obtain, use, or endeavored to obtain or use the property of another. That act has to be done with the intent to either temporarily or permanently deprive the other person of a right to that property or a benefit from the property. It can also be with the intent to appropriate the property for their own use or to the use of any person who is not entitled to the use of property. The elements of the crime really depend upon the value of the item that was taken.
If the property that was taken is valued at $100,000 or more, generally that is considered grand theft in the first-degree and is punishable by up to 30 years in the Florida State Prison. This is the highest degree of theft in Florida. Second-degree grand theft, which is also a felony, involves the theft of property valued between $20,000 and $100,000.
Severity of Theft Charges
The value of the property that was stolen often dictates the severity of the Ft. Lauderdale theft charges that a person may face. When it falls within a certain range, that dictates the crime’s level of felony which then dictates how many points an individual is given on their score sheet. Points on the score sheet can influence the presumptive sentence that a judge would be in a position to impose. Second-degree felonies are punishable by up to 15 years in Florida State Prison. Third-degree felony theft, which involves any property valued at more than $300 but less than $20,000, would also include things like theft of a will or firearm. Also, any theft of a motor vehicle is usually grand theft in the third degree. Where the value of the property falls within that range will dictate what level it is and how many points an individual would get on a score sheet. A second-degree misdemeanor would be a first-time offense and would involve anything valued up to $100.
Anything between $100 and $300 that is stolen would result in a first-degree misdemeanor charge punishable by up to 364 days in county jail; second degree is up to 60 days in the county jail. If the value is less than $100 but there is a prior misdemeanor petty theft on the person’s record, that also becomes a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. Any convictions for misdemeanor theft in Florida can result in a six months driver’s license suspension for a first offense up to a year for any subsequent offenses.
Separate Charges Included in Theft
The biggest separate charge included in theft is shoplifting. Shoplifting comprises an overwhelming majority of theft-related cases prosecuted in Ft. Lauderdale. If the value of the merchandise is under $100 and/or under $300, that is generally a misdemeanor either in the second degree or first-degree. Anything over $300 is a felony and, depending upon is the amount, will dictate the level of the felony. About two-thirds of shoplifting cases are the misdemeanor variety, meaning that the value of the merchandise taken will be under $300. However, a fair amount of cases involving merchandise in the $300 to $800 range are prosecuted as felonies.
Other types of theft cases in Ft. Lauderdale would be dealing in stolen property, retail theft, unauthorized use of an individual’s credit card, uttering a forged instrument (which is writing a bad check), unlawful possession of a stolen credit card, exploitation of the elderly, failure to return a hired vehicle, robbery, carjacking, and operating chop shops.
Alternative Sentencing Options
For certain Ft. Lauderdale theft charges like shoplifting, diversion programs are available if it is a person’s first offense. Diversion programs could sometimes result in those cases being dropped. In the misdemeanor world, that program will be called the misdemeanor diversion program (M.D.P.). Under the felony umbrella, it is called PTI, which stands for pre-trial intervention. If an individual wants to know more about theft charges and how they can begin building their defense, they should consult a capable theft attorney that could help.