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Theft in Florida: how it is defined, and how it is classified

Anyone familiar with the general term, theft, has likely heard multiple ways of describing it: larceny, petty theft, grand larceny, grand theft, conversion, and so on. This post describes what constitutes the crime of theft in the state of Florida, and the different sub-classifications of that crime.

So, what is theft in Florida?

The taking and removal of the property itself must be demonstrated by the prosecution, as well as the lack of consent of the person who owned that property to such taking.

Logically, then, two defenses to the accusation of theft include the genuine belief that the person taking the property thought that he or she owned it, or that the person who owned that property consented to the taking.

What are the types of theft offenses?

Florida statutes generally tie the seriousness of the theft charge to the dollar value of the property that was taken.

At the low end of the scale, if the property was worth less than $300 then the crime of theft is a misdemeanor. The term used for this kind of theft in Florida is petit theft.

If the value is $300 or more, then the crime is punishable as a felony, and is referred to as varying degrees of grand theft.

  • $300 to $20,000 is third degree;
  • $20,000 to $100,000 is second degree; and
  • $100,000 or more is first degree.

There are some additional variations of theft offenses, such as when an automobile is used in the theft in a capacity other than as a getaway car, or when during the commission of the theft property damage of more than $1,000 took place. Either of these may raise a charge of grand theft to the first degree.

Punishments for conviction of theft vary depending on the charge, as well as other considerations such as whether the defendant had any past theft convictions. Misdemeanor punishments can result in a fine and up to 60 days in jail, while felony convictions can lead to heftier fines and up to 30 years in prison.

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