The laws that determine whether stealing something is considered a felony or a less severe crime typically hinge on the value of the property stolen, and differ from state to state. Florida has some of the strictest laws out of any state. If you are caught stealing anything worth more than $300, you could face the felony charge of “grand theft.”
Understanding the Penalties
If you are found guilty of felony grand theft of anything between $30 and $5,000 in value, you could have a third-degree felony charge on your record which, according to the Orlando Sentinel, could land you a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison. On the other hand, stealing something worth less than $300 is considered petty theft, which is punishable with up to $1,000 in fines and as much as one year on probation or in jail.
Comparing with other states
The only state with a lower threshold for felony theft is New Jersey, where you can be charged with a felony for stealing anything with a value of more than $200. Nearby, the threshold in Louisiana and Mississippi is $1,000, while in Alabama and Georgia the line is drawn at $1,500.
A perspective on over-criminalization
You may be wondering why the threshold for grand theft is so low in Florida. The law has not changed since 1986, meaning that it has not accounted for inflation over the last 34 years. It is now much easier to wind up being charged for felony theft than it was back in the ’80s.