Generally, theft involves the unauthorized taking or use of another person’s property. Importantly, Florida law does not distinguish between the property being taken permanently or temporarily. It is therefore not a legal excuse to a charge of theft that a person intended to give the property back to its owner after a certain amount of time.
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Whether a theft is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony will often depend on the value of the property taken. For example, theft of property valued between $300 and $20,000 qualifies as grand theft in the third degree, while theft of property valued between $20,000 and $100,000 qualifies as grand theft in the second degree. Theft of property valued over $100,000 is considered grand theft in the first degree. The theft of property valued under $300 is classified as petit theft, which is typically charged as a misdemeanor. The value of the property at issue must be proven by prosecutors in addition to the unauthorized taking of the property itself.
As a “crime involving dishonesty,” theft crimes can leave a permanent and harmful stain on a person’s criminal record. Further, rules of evidence allow for the use of a theft conviction against a person should they become a future witness in any case, civil or criminal.
No criminal allegation should be taken lightly. It is always important to consult a criminal defense attorney with experience in theft cases to properly present your case and protect your reputation. If you or a person you know has been charged with a theft crime, call us at the Law Office of John M. Phillips for a free consultation.