Grand theft is a serious charge. Theft is graded according to the value of the property that was allegedly taken. If you have been charged with grand theft, burglary, robbery, or other similar offenses you face the risk of incarceration, fines, and other penalties. At The Hoffman Firm, experienced Fort Lauderdale theft crime attorney Evan Hoffman examines the situations leading to his clients' arrests closely, and develops defense strategies tailored to their unique circumstances.Grand Theft in Fort Lauderdale
Grand theft is defined under Florida Statutes section 812.014. A prosecutor hoping to secure a conviction for grand theft must show: (1) an unlawful using or taking, (2) of property valued at $300 or more, (3) with the specific intent to permanently or temporarily deprive a property owner of his or her rights or appropriate the property to the defendant's own ends.
The prosecutor needs to put forward competent evidence not only that you stole property that belonged to someone else, but you also did so intending to steal. The value of the property is significant because if the property is worth less than $300, you may be able to get the charges reduced to petit theft, a slightly less serious charge.Penalties for Grand Theft
If you are convicted of grand theft, the penalties you face at sentencing depend on what kind of property was at issue and what it's worth. Grand theft can be charged as a third degree felony where the stolen property is worth $300-$20,000, or where it's a will, a firearm, a motor vehicle, a fire extinguisher, a commercially farmed animal, citrus fruit that includes 2000 or more individual fruit pieces, taken from a designated construction site, a controlled substance, or a stop sign. Generally, a third degree felony can be punished with a maximum of 5 years in prison or on probation and a $5000 fine.
However, grand theft may be charged as a second degree felony when the property at issue is worth $20,000-$100,000, or where it's cargo worth less than $50,000 in interstate commerce in transit from a loading platform to a receiving dock, emergency medical equipment worth at least $300, or law enforcement equipment. When charged as a second degree felony, a grand theft conviction will carry the potential of 15 years’ incarceration or on probation and a $10,000 fine.
The most serious grand theft is charged as a first degree felony. This is grand theft of property that's worth at least $100,000, or that is a semitrailer used by a law enforcement officer, cargo worth at least $50,000 that is in the stream of commerce, or where you used a motor vehicle to help in perpetrating the grand theft and thereby damaged someone else's real property, or you damaged someone else's personal or real property in an amount more than $1000. When charged as a first degree felony, the maximum punishment is 30 years’ incarceration and a $10,000 fine.Potential Defenses
If charged, you shouldn't assume that the prosecutor will be able to secure a conviction for grand theft. An experienced criminal defense attorney may consider employing various strong defense strategies. All grand theft charges must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In some cases, it is possible to raise reasonable doubt about one or more elements of a grand theft charge.
In other cases, it is possible to attack a single element of the charge. If you had a good faith belief that you owned the property, your lack of intent to steal will be a strong defense to the charge. It is also a defense to grand theft if you were legally entitled to take or dispose of the property or you believed you had this right. If the prosecutor cannot prove the specific intent necessary to a grand theft charge, a conviction cannot be obtained. Other potential defenses are duress, necessity, consent or mistake.Theft Crime Lawyer Serving Fort Lauderdale
You should take the possibility of a grand theft conviction in Fort Lauderdale seriously. The stigma of such a conviction may haunt you far into the future, making it difficult to get a job or find housing. Consult a seasoned criminal defense attorney The Hoffman Firm if you were charged with grand theft in Davie, Plantation, Deerfield Beach, Pembroke Pines, Sunrise, Fort Lauderdale, or anywhere in Broward County. Contact us at (954) 524-4474 or via our online form for a free, confidential consultation.