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What is the difference between theft and robbery in Florida?

In an earlier post we addressed the question of what constitutes theft in the state of Florida. As a refresher, Florida defines theft, and its variations, including larceny and embezzlement as well as other specific crimes that involve taking the property of another, as the intentional act of taking or removing the property of another, without that person's consent.

A charge of theft can result regardless of whether the taking of the other person's property was permanent or only temporary.

Florida law divides theft offenses into two broad subcategories, "petit" theft and "grand" theft. The distinction between the two depends on the value of the property that was stolen.

Petit theft is a misdemeanor crime involving property valued at no more than $300. Grand theft is a felony, and Florida further sub-divides this category into three levels or degrees of seriousness (again depending on the value of the property that was taken):

  • From $300 to $20,000 is third-degree grand theft;
  • From $20,000 to $100,000 constitutes second-degree grand theft; and
  • A value of more than $100,000 is first-degree grand theft. There are also other ways to qualify for this degree, such as using a car while committing the crime (other than as a getaway vehicle) or by causing damage to property of $1,000 or more during the theft.

Robbery is a variation of theft, but has a key distinction: it involves the use or threatened use of force or violence during the act.

As with grand theft, Florida law breaks robbery down into degrees of seriousness from second (least serious) to first (most serious). And just as first-degree grand theft can be triggered by certain acts (for example, property damage) some aggravating circumstances can lead to more serious robbery charges. These distinctions can include, using a gun or other deadly weapon during the act is first-degree robbery, while using a non-deadly weapon or committing a "strong-arm" robbery (no weapon) is a second-degree charge.

As with most criminal law accusations, there can be variables depending on the facts of each case that this overview cannot address. If you have been accused of theft or robbery, or have questions about these charges, a criminal defense law firm may be able to help you to find your answers.

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