Experienced West Palm Beach Theft Attorney
Under Florida law §812.014, theft is committed by a person who knowingly obtains or uses, or attempts to take or use another person’s property with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive that person of such property. Depending on the circumstances of the incident, a theft charge can lead to severe penalties, including fines, restitution, and imprisonment of up to 30 years.
If you are accused of theft in West Palm Beach, hiring an experienced theft attorney is essential. It may not be wise to wait until charges are officially filed. A theft lawyer can protect your rights during the police investigation and ensure you don’t implicate yourself. Your attorney will also advise you throughout the process and find ways to get your charges dismissed or reduced.
Our knowledgeable and passionate criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of Brian M. Carroll, P.A., has successfully defended theft cases in West Palm Beach and may be able to help you, too.
Types of Theft in Florida
Generally, there are two types of theft charges in Florida: petit theft and grand theft charges.
According to Fla. Stat. §812.014(2)(e), petit theft, also called petty theft, is committed when the stolen property is valued between $100 and $749. On the other hand, grand theft is committed when, among other things, the stolen property is any of the following:
- Property valued at $750 or more
- A semitrailer utilized by law enforcement officers
- Cargo valued at $50,000 or more that has entered the stream of commerce
- A testamentary instrument such as a will or codicil
- A motor vehicle or a firearm
- Emergency medical equipment valued at $300
- Any commercially farmed animal
Note that it is also grand theft when the commission of theft causes damage of over $1,000 or when a motor vehicle is used to assist in committing the offense.
What Are the Penalties for Theft?
Theft crimes can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the property stolen or its value.
Second-degree misdemeanor: A conviction of a second-degree misdemeanor may lead to a fine and imprisonment of not more than 60 days. An example of such an offense is property theft worth less than $100.
First-degree misdemeanor: A first petit theft of property valued at more than $100 but less than $750 may lead to a first-degree misdemeanor carrying a fine and imprisonment of up to one year.
Third-degree felony: A third-degree grand theft may lead to a maximum fine of $5,000 and imprisonment of up to 5 years. This penalty may be imposed on people who commit petit theft but have two prior petit theft convictions or on those accused of stealing property worth $100 to $750 from a dwelling.
Second-degree felony: A second-degree felony results in up to $10,000 in fines and up to 15 years in prison. Theft against a person aged at least 65 years old, where the value of the property stolen is between $10,000 and $49,999, is an example of a second-degree grand theft.
First-degree felony: A first-degree grand theft carries a fine of not more than $10,000 and imprisonment of up to 30 years. First-degree felonies include stealing property worth at least $100,000.
What Are the Consequences of a Theft Crime Conviction in South Florida?
Aside from paying fines, serving time, and restitution (paying back the value of what was stolen), a criminal record for theft can have the following consequences:
- Loss of current employment and difficulty finding future employment
- Suspension of driver’s license under Fla. Stat. §812.0155(1)
- Difficulty getting student loans and academic scholarships
- Difficulty getting approved for American Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Residency (Green Card).
What Is Shoplifting or Retail Theft?
Stealing property from a store or merchant, altering a product’s price tag, or removing shopping carts from a business establishment constitutes the offense of shoplifting. This offense is generally punishable as a second-degree misdemeanor.
Theft and shoplifting are common juvenile offenses. You may face incarceration, probation, or commitment to the Department of Juvenile Justice upon conviction or adjudication. It’s crucial to seek a juvenile defense attorney if you or your loved one is accused of theft.
What To Do When Arrested for Theft in West Palm Beach?
If you get arrested for theft, it’s crucial not to panic and be polite to the arresting officer. Here’s what you should do:
Follow the instructions of the police
Exercise your right to remain silent
Request an attorney
Don’t allow law enforcement to search your property without a warrant
Why Hire a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer?
Theft is a serious crime, regardless of the property involved. If you are facing theft charges, it is in your best interest to speak with a theft lawyer immediately.
Your attorney will help you understand the charges against you and prepare you for your hearings. They will work to get the charges dropped or reduced by questioning the credibility and validity prosecution’s case. They may also negotiate with the prosecution to get you a favorable plea deal.
What Are the Usual Defenses for Petit Theft?
Some of the defenses that may be raised against a charge of petit theft include:
- Lack of criminal intent or intent to deprive the owner of use and benefits
- Incorrect property valuation
- Inadvertence in the alteration or removal of price tag
- Mistaken identity
- Having the authorization to use the property in question
How Can a Grand Theft Defense Attorney Help?
A grand theft defense attorney can help you with the following:
Challenge the evidence presented by the prosecution and prevent it from being admitted in court
Investigate your case thoroughly to find evidence that supports your innocence or reduces your charges
Negotiate with the prosecution for a favorable plea deal, such as reducing the charges to a lesser offense
Represent you in court and argue your case before a judge or jury
If necessary, Appeal any guilty verdict, seeking a new trial or sentence reduction on your behalf.
The Law Offices of Brian M. Carroll, P.A. Can Help
If you have been charged with petit or grand theft in West Palm Beach, the Law Offices of Brian M. Caroll, P.A. can help. Our criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience defending clients against theft charges and will work tirelessly to protect your rights and build a strong defense on your behalf.
Contact our criminal defense lawyer today for a free consultation to discuss your theft charges and learn about your legal options. Our team of skilled attorneys will guide you through the legal process and fight to protect your rights and future. Don’t wait – call us now at 561-629-9684 to get started!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Expunge or Seal a Theft Conviction in Florida?
Sealing or expunging a theft conviction is possible only if the prosecution dropped your case or you were acquitted.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Theft in Florida
In Florida, theft has a five-year statute of limitation. This means the prosecutor must bring the theft charge within five years of the alleged crime.