Florida has several laws in place to protect people's property, and violations of those statutes are taken seriously. State laws categorize crimes involving property in two different ways. Certain laws were created concerning theft, and others were written involving trespassing or damaging property.
Theft can occur when an individual takes another person's property, and sometimes the crimes happen accidentally. If a person mistakenly takes an item from a store without paying for it, it can be classified as a theft crime and prosecuted as such.
Property crimes can include burglary, criminal trespass, arson and criminal mischief. Breaking and entering, graffiti and vandalism also would be considered property crimes in Florida.
Penalties associated with theft and property crimes in Florida tend to be serious and can include prison time, steep fines or both. A conviction also could require you to pay restitution for the damages or stolen property, even if you were unaware of its value.
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If you are convicted of a theft or property crime, you will have a criminal record that could carry a lifetime of repercussions. If you are charged with theft, burglary or any other property crime in Broward County it is important to contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale theft and property crime lawyer to build a defense.
The team at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. will seek to have your charges reduced or dismissed, and the attorneys will passionately and aggressively defend you. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. represents clients throughout Broward County, including in Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines, Miramar, Coral Springs, Hollywood, Pompano Beach, Plantation, Davie, Sunrise, Weston and Wilton Manors.
Call Meltzer & Bell, P.A. at (954) 228-2789 to schedule a free consultation. We are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
In Florida, the severity of theft charges is determined by the value of the property that allegedly was stolen, according to Florida Statutes Annotated § 812.014.
A theft crime is considered a "petit theft," or "petty theft," if the value of the property is worth $300 or less. Petit theft is a second-degree misdemeanor if the property value was $100 or less. It is a first-degree misdemeanor if the property is worth between $100 and $300.
Grand theft crimes involve property worth more than $300 or property with a distinct classification in Florida. If the property fits into one of the categories for grand theft, the value does not matter and the crime will be considered a felony.
Grand theft can be a first, second or third-degree felony:
Florida law also includes a retail theft charge. Retail theft, according to Florida Statutes Annotated § 812.015, involves theft from a merchant, which could include a farm, where theft prevention countermeasures were used, multiple establishments were hit in a 24-hour period, items were put intentionally into an incorrect container or other methods were used to steal from stores. It is a third-degree felony.
Dealing in stolen property selling or transporting property the accused knew or should have known was stolen. It is a second-degree felony under Florida Statutes Annotated § 812.019. Organizing, managing, financing or supervising the trafficking of stolen goods is a first-degree felony.
If you have any prior theft conviction, a subsequent conviction will be one grade higher. For example, if you are accused of stealing a firearm and have a prior petit theft conviction, you will be charged with a second-degree felony, rather than a third-degree felony.
Burglary is defined as entering or remaining in a building without consent with the intent to commit a crime. The crime often is theft, but it could be any offense, according to Florida Statutes Annotated § 810.02. Burglary can be charged as burglary of a structure, dwelling or a conveyance, such as a vehicle.
If any part of a person's body enters the structure, it may be considered a burglary. For example, if a person breaks a car window and reaches inside to pull something out, it may be considered burglary of a conveyance.
If the building is unoccupied at the time of the offense, the crime is considered a third-degree felony. However, if the building is occupied, it is a second-degree felony. If the offender is armed when entering the building, it is a first-degree felony.
Criminal trespass is a lesser charge if a person enters or stays on property or in a building after being asked to leave. A posted "No Trespassing" sign is considered enough warning, according to Florida Statutes Annotated § 810.08-810.97.
If the property is unoccupied, it is a second-degree misdemeanor. If occupied, it is a first-degree misdemeanor, and if the defendant was armed, it is a third-degree felony.
Arson means illegally destroying or damaging someone else's property with explosives or fire during the commission of another felony, according to Florida Statutes Annotated § 806.01. It is a second-degree felony if the building was not occupied and a first-degree felony if it was.
Criminal mischief is defined as willfully and maliciously damaging someone else's property, which include public property. This charge includes damaging bridges, overpasses and street signs by acts of vandalism and graffiti.
It is a second-degree misdemeanor if the damage was valued at less than $200, a first-degree misdemeanor if the property was worth between $200 and $1,000 and a third-degree felony if the property was valued at above $1,000.
Penalties for theft and property crime convictions in Fort Lauderdale differ and depend on the type of crime committed. If you are convicted, you could face:
In some cases, you also may be required to pay restitution, or the value of the stolen or damaged property, in addition to the prison or jail time and the fines.
Florida Statutes Annotated § 812.014: This is the state law for theft, covering all offenses relating to shoplifting, petit theft and grand theft.
Florida Statutes Annotated, Chapter 810: This chapter of Florida law covers all burglary and criminal trespass offenses.
Florida Statutes Annotated, Chapter 806: All offenses relating to arson and criminal mischief and contained in this chapter of Florida law.
If you are charged with theft or another property crime, take immediate action and contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale theft and property crime defense lawyer at Meltzer & Bell, P.A.. The dedicated team at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. has experience defending clients in the 17th Judicial Circuit and will fight for you.
Call Meltzer & Bell, P.A. to schedule a free consultation and talk about your Broward County charges.
This article was last updated on Friday, November 11, 2016.
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