In the state of Florida, theft laws cover a range of offenses such as larceny or stealing. Theft occurs when an individual intentionally takes or uses property that belongs to another person. An accused person must intend to deprive the owner of that property to be found guilty of a theft charge. Theft may also occur if a person uses property for a purpose other than what he or she was authorized to use it for.
A theft charge may either be considered grand theft or petty theft. If convicted of first-degree grand theft, a person may face a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of up to 30 years. A second-degree charge comes with the same fine and a prison sentence of up to five years. If convicted of a petty theft charge, an individual may be sentenced to anywhere from 60 days to a year in jail.
The severity of a charge depends on the value of the merchandise stolen as well as how often the crime is committed. For instance, those who are convicted twice of petty theft could see the charge upgraded to a third-degree felony. A third degree-felony charge may also apply if a stop sign or weapon is among the items taken.
Those who are charged with a crime such as shoplifting or theft may face a variety of penalties. These penalties might include a fine, jail time or prison time. An attorney could help a defendant show that there was no intent to steal property when it was taken. This may be done by getting the owner to acknowledge that it was borrowed with permission or that it was used in a manner authorized by the owner.