Theft in Ft. Lauderdale

In Florida, theft, otherwise known as larceny in other jurisdictions, may be charged in two ways –grand theft or petit theft. The seriousness of the penalty imposed as a result of a theft conviction depends on what was stolen or the value of the property stolen.

Grand theft may be charged as a third-degree or a first-degree felony under Florida law. Often, we see grand theft charged in conjunction with stealing a vehicle or serious white-collar crimes like embezzlement.  To secure a grand theft conviction, the State must sufficiently prove the value of the property, however, like every other aspect of a criminal case.

Petit theft, also known as petty theft, is the misdemeanor offense for theft crimes under Florida law. In a petit offense, a person is alleged to have stolen property valued at $300 or less. The most common petit theft scenario is shoplifting, but it certainly is not the only way to be charged with petit theft. 

Attorney for Grand Theft in Ft. Lauderdale, FL

The attorneys at Bacchus & Navarro Law Group have handled multiple grand theft cases throughout Fort Lauderdale, FL. We have experienced Florida attorneys who are known for fighting for to provide our clients with the best defense possible.

Our offices are centrally located at 401 E. Las Olas Blvd. in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, just minutes from the Broward County Central Courthouse. We serve clients throughout the Miami-metropolitan area in Broward County, and in the surrounding counties of Hendry, Palm Beach, Collier, and Miami-Dade, County, Florida.

Call (954) 500-5555 to set up a one-on-one consultation with one of our attorneys.


Broward County Grand Theft / Petit Theft Information Center


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Florida Grand Theft Crimes

Grand theft in Florida may be charged as a first or a third-degree felony. The charges depend on either the value of the stolen property, such as stealing millions from a company or what the offender stole, such as 2,000 or more oranges.

Third-Degree Grand Theft

Stealing money is not the only way to be charged with grand theft. Under Florida law, stealing the following items constitutes third-degree felony grand theft:

  • a firearm;
  • a stop sign;
  • ammonia;
  • a will, codicil, or another testamentary instrument;
  • a commercially farmed animal (if the animal is from an aquaculture then there is an additional $10,000 fine);
  • two thousand (2,000) or more individual pieces of citrus fruit;
  • any controlled substance as defined by Florida Statute § 893.02;
  • a motor vehicle; or
  • any property valued by at least $300 and up to $20,000.

Third-degree felonies are punishable by up to five (5) years in prison in FL, and up to $5,000 fines.


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Second-Degree Grand Theft

The State will charge an individual with second-degree grand theft when the following property is stolen:

  • cargo valued at less than $50,000 that has entered the stream of commerce;
  • property valued between $20,000 and $100,000;
  • emergency medical equipment taken from a Chapter 395 facility that is valued at $300 or more;
  • emergency medical equipment taken from an aircraft or vehicle; or
  • law enforcement equipment valued at $300 or more that is taken from an authorized police vehicle.

Grand theft auto charged as a second-degree felony in Broward County, FL, is punishable by up to fifteen (15) years in prison and up to $10,000 fines.


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First Degree Grand Theft

The most serious level of grand theft is first-degree felony grand theft. First-degree felonies for theft offenses are usually charged based on a very high property value and are subject to very harsh penalties.

Stealing any of the following will result in first-degree grand theft charges:

  • property valued at $100,000 or more;
  • cargo valued at $50,000 or more that entered the stream of commerce;
  • law enforcement semitrailer;
  • a motor vehicle stolen to assist in committing the offense (used other than merely as a getaway), and in doing so the defendant  damaged another person's property; or
  • in the course of committing the theft, the offender caused more than $1,000 worth of damage to another person's property.

First-degree felonies are penalized by up to thirty (30) years in prison and up to $20,000 fines.  


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Grand Theft Auto in Florida

Stealing a motor vehicle in Florida is charged as grand theft regardless of the value of the motor vehicle. Florida motor vehicle theft is charged as a third-degree felony under the Florida Theft Statute §812.014. To find a defendant guilty of grand theft of an automobile, the State must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. the defendant knowingly and unlawfully used or obtained, or tried to use or obtain;
  2. the victim's motor vehicle; and
  3. the defendant did so with the intent to permanently or temporarily do any of the following:
    1. to deprive the victim of his or her right to the motor vehicle, or
    2. to appropriate the motor vehicle to his or her own use or to a person's use who was not entitled to it.

Motor vehicle theft is charged as a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five (5) years in prison and up to $5,000 fines.


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Penalties of Petit Theft in FL

If the value of the property stolen is more than $100, but less than $300, then the offender may be charged with first-degree petit theft. First-degree petit theft is considered a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and up to $1,000 fines.

Although the consequences of theft crimes become harsher as the value of the property increases, the Florida Legislature still provided a penalty for theft crimes where the value of the stolen property is less than $100.

If the value of the stolen property is less than $100, then the offender may be charged with second-degree petit theft. Second-degree petit theft is charged as a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to sixty (60) days in jail and up to $500 fines.


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Elements of Petit Theft under § 812.014

In order to convict an individual of petit theft, the prosecution must prove, at trial, the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. that the defendant knowingly and unlawfully obtained, used, or endeavored to obtain or use the allegedly stolen property;
  2. the defendant did so with the intent to, either temporarily or permanently
    1. deprive the victim of his or her right to the property or any benefit from it; or
    2. appropriate the property to his or her own use or to the use of another person not entitled to it;
  3. that the property stolen was valued at $300 or less.

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Potential Defenses to Petit Theft

Florida courts have illustrated a number of instances where the prosecution has failed to prove a defendant guilty of theft. In FL, some examples of defenses to petit theft charges include:

Good Faith Belief – If an individual takes possession of property in the good faith belief that he or she has a right to such property, then the offender lacks the intent required to be convicted of theft under Florida law. See Bartless v. State, 765 So.2d 799, 800 (1st. DCA 2000)

Abandonment –if a defendant abandons his or her attempt to commit petit theft or otherwise prevents its commission, then the defendant may use this defense. The defendant must have manifested a complete and voluntary renunciation of his or her criminal purpose. See § 777.04(5)(a) Fla. Stats.


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Additional Resources

Section 812.014 Fla. Stat. Theft – Visit Online Sunshine the official website of the Florida Legislature for the full statutory layout of theft charges in Florida and for information about jail time and fines associated with being convicted of grand theft in Broward County, FL.

"Dealing in Stolen Property, Grand Theft, and Ineffective Assistance of Counsel" – Visit the Florida Bar Journal website, for an online article explaining grand theft charges including examples outlined in Florida case law. Also, find out information about the consequences of dealing in stolen property under Florida law.


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Finding an Attorney for Grand Theft in Broward County, FL

If you or someone you know has been arrested in Broward County for grand theft, a scheme to defraud, or any other theft offense, then call an experienced criminal defense attorney. With offices located in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, the attorneys at Bacchus & Navarro Law Group are known for being fearless and steadfast advocates for their clients. Our previous cases have been in cities like Miami, East Naples, West Palm Beach, and LaBelle, Florida.

Call (954) 500-5555 to schedule a no obligations consultation with one of our after an arrest.

We take cases throughout the Miami-metropolitan area in counties like Hendry, Miami-Dade, Collier, and Palm Beach County, FL. Act fast to lessen your chances of fines or jail time.

This Article Was Last Updated on April 12, 2017.


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