Joyriding generally refers to using someone else’s motor vehicle with the intention of returning it. Unlike other states, Florida law treats joyriding offenses as grand theft which can result in paying significant fines, serving prison time and probation, and having a criminal record. If you or your child has been charged with Florida grand theft, contact a Ft. Lauderdale joyriding lawyer to discuss the charges and determine what legal defenses may apply to you and your family. It may be critical to speak with an experienced theft attorney regarding your case. En Español.
Joyriding in Florida is generally considered a grand theft offense. A theft occurs when someone:
- Knowingly obtains or uses the property of another
- With the intent to, either temporarily or permanently deprive the person of a right to the property or a benefit from the property
- Appropriates the property to their own use or to the use of any person not entitled to use the property
Florida recognizes three degrees of theft. Third-degree grand theft charges result when someone steals $300 or more worth of property. Penalties include up to five years in prison or five years of probation and a $5,000 fine. When someone steals $20,000 or more worth of property, they can face second-degree grand theft charges. Penalties include up to 15 years in prison or 15 years of probation and a $10,000 fine. A first-degree grand theft charge is when someone steals $100,000 or more worth of property. Ft. Lauderdale joyriding lawyers have seen penalties include up to 30 years in prison with a maximum fine of $10,000.
Possible Defenses for Grand Theft
There are several defenses to Florida grand theft/joyriding offenses, including.
- Duress refers to a threat of harm which compelled a person to do something against their will
- Equal ownership means that someone who may have been a co-owner of the vehicle. Someone who owned the vehicle cannot be charged with using it.
- Good faith belief refers to intent. Florida law requires prosecutors to prove that the person intended to steal the vehicle. If someone had a good faith belief that they had a right to use the vehicle – or that the owner consented, then intent to steal it does not exist.
- Mistake of fact refers to not understanding that a certain action or inaction was against the law
- Necessity refers to conduct which may have been necessary to prevent some greater harm
Help from a Florida Joyriding Lawyer
An experienced Fort Lauderdale joyriding lawyer can determine which legal defenses apply to joyriding offenses. They can also evaluate whether the potential exists to have those charges dismissed for first-time offenders who may be able to participate in a diversion program or perform community service in lieu of facing criminal grand theft penalties. Florida joyriding can have serious consequences – especially to young adults who are typically charged with these types of offenses. If you or your child is facing Florida grand theft charges, contact an experienced Ft. Lauderdale joyriding lawyer.