Florida law defines theft as the unlawful taking of someone else’s property with the intent of keeping it. This includes fraudulently keeping property that has been entrusted to you; defrauding someone using false representations or pretense; taking property by false premises; larceny; embezzlement; and larceny by trick and device.
Property can include credit or services as well as physical objects. There is also identity theft; failing to return something you’ve rented or leased and taking money to do a job and then not doing it. Sometimes finding something and not returning it when the owner can be identified is considered a form of theft.
Florida law divides theft crimes into two categories, grand theft and petty theft. In most cases, prosecutors must show that the value of the things stolen is $300 or greater in order to file felony grand theft charges. Usually grand theft is punishable by up to five years in state prison. Prison time can be increased depending on the value of the items stolen. Dealing in stolen goods carries a possible prison term of between five and fifteen years.
Thefts of items over $150 but under $300 is a first degree misdemeanor charge. If the item is under $150 it is a second degree misdemeanor. A first degree misdemeanor carries a penalty range of incarceration of up to one year in the county jail and up to a $1,000 fine. A second degree misdemeanor carries a penalty range of up to 60 days incarceration in the county jail and up to a $500 fine. If you are convicted or agree to a plea bargain you will almost always have to pay restitution to the victim.
It is important to be aware that there are all sorts of aggravators which may increase the charges from misdemeanor to felony. There are also aggravators that increase the penalties from possible probation all the way up to thirty years in prison.
Sometimes it is possible to charge a person who is charged with misdemeanor petite or retail theft as a felony even if the value of the item is very small. This is known as a “petite with two priors” and it qualifies as a felony offense with a possible prison term of up to 5 years and up to a $5,000 fine.
Glenn Swiatek has the knowledge and expertise to help those charged with theft crimes. It is possible that if you are a first-time offender and the amount is small that he will be able to work out a civil compromise and have the case dismissed. If charges have already been filed, it’s possible to ask the victim to appear in court and ask that they be dropped, because restitution has been made.
Glenn Swiatek also has the knowledge and expertise to assist you if you have been charged with felony grand theft. It may still be possible to have you enter a diversion program where if restitution is made and you are not rearrested for some other offense, the prosecutor drops the charge after a period of time – usually 12 to 18 months.
Glenn Swiatek has often been able to win alternatives to jail or prison time for his clients. These alternatives include work release programs, community service, house arrest/electronic monitoring, work programs and private counseling services that offer specialized therapy for those accused of theft. Staying out of jail or prison helps you protect your freedom, your job, your family’s financial security and your future employment prospects. If you’ve been accused of a theft crime, call Glenn Swiatek as soon as possible to discuss how he can help. Criminal law is not Glenn Swiatek’s sideline – it is all he does. Call Glenn Swiatek as soon as possible at 850-609-0940 or contact us for a no cost consultation.