Theft 

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 Law Firm 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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Grand Theft Crimes in Florida

Grand theft is an offense that involves the unlawful taking of property valued at $300 or more with the intention of depriving the owner of their right to the property. In order to convict you, prosecutors are required to prove you did the following:

  • You knowingly stole or used the property of another
  • You did so with the intention to deprive the owner of their right or benefit of the property
  • The property was valued at $300 or more

How you are charged for the offense will depend on what you stole, or the value of what you stole. Listed below are the penalties for grand theft in Florida:

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 (there is an additional $10,000 fine if the animal is from a fish farm );
  • 2,000 or more  pieces of citrus fruit;
  • A controlled substance; 
  • A motor vehicle; or
  • Any property valued between $300 and $20,000.

A third-degree felony is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to  $5,000.

Second-Degree Grand Theft

Grand theft is charged as a second-degree felony 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 from a Chapter 395 facility that is valued at $300 or more;
  • Emergency medical equipment from an aircraft or vehicle; or
  • Law enforcement equipment valued at $300 or more from an authorized police vehicle.

A second-degree felony is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

First Degree Grand Theft

First-degree theft is the most serious theft offense in Florida. The offense involves stealing high-value property or causing large amounts of property damage. The penalties for first-degree grand theft are harsh, so it's advised you retain legal counsel. 

A theft offense involving any of the following elements will result in first-degree grand theft charges:

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

A first-degree felony is penalized by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000. 


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What is Grand Theft Auto?

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 Florida Theft Statute §812.014. To find a defendant guilty of grand theft auto, 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 a motor vehicle;
  2. The defendant did so with the intent to permanently or temporarily do any of the following:
    1. Deprive the victim of his or her right to the motor vehicle, or
    2. Appropriate the motor vehicle to his or her own use or to a person's use who was not entitled to it.

Grand theft auto is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.


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What is Petit Theft?

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

  1. 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. The stolen propert was valued at $300 or less.

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How is Petit Theft Charged in Florida? 

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

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, an offender may be charged with second-degree petit theft. Second-degree petit theft is charged as a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.


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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.

The best defense you can take to theft charges is contacting legal representation. A criminal defense attorney can file motions, suppress evidence and advocate on your behalf to achieve the best possible outcome.  


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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 Law Firm 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 March 29, 2019.


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