Riots and other similar forms of civil disobedience can bring out the worst in people. Civil unrest can quickly turn violent, with demonstrators clashing with law enforcement. But violence isn’t the only thing that can happen during rioting.
When riots occur, there’s a possibility that some might take the chance to loot and ransack local businesses. Some might think that the chaos of riots or unrest can conceal their theft, but law enforcement has ways to identify opportunistic offenders. Theft during a riot or other civil disturbance in Florida carries serious legal consequences.
Florida law on looting
According to state law, a person commits a theft offense if they loot property during a riot, with the theft facilitated by certain “conditions” arising from said riot. It’s also a looting offense if someone steals property during a state of emergency (such as during or after a natural disaster).
What are these conditions facilitating looting?
By law, a theft offense is considered looting if certain conditions brought about by rioting or a state of emergency apply. These conditions include:
- Civil unrest
- Power outages
- First responders are too busy to respond
- Voluntary or mandatory evacuations
These conditions mean that even if a theft offense happens in one part of town while the riots happen in another part, the conditions brought about by the civil unrest will still enhance the crime.
The penalties for looting depend on the value of the items stolen during the offense:
- Property stolen is worth $20,000 or more, less than $100,000: The theft is a felony of the first degree, punishable by up to 30 years of prison and $10,000 in fines.
- Property stolen is worth $10,000 or more, less than $20,000: The theft is a felony of the second degree, punishable by up to 15 years of prison and $10,000 in fines.
- Property stolen is worth $5,000 or more, less than $10,000: The theft is a felony of the third degree, punishable by up to 5 years of prison and $5,000 in fines.
Theft during a riot in Florida is a serious offense with heightened penalties due to the added risks to public safety. If you face such charges, consult an experienced legal professional to defend your rights and explore your legal options.