Grand theft occurs when someone knowingly takes or uses someone else's property. Whether the crime is charged as grand or petty theft depends on the value of the property. If you are charged with grand theft, you should consult an experienced advocate. St. Petersburg grand theft lawyer Will Hanlon has fought for the rights of criminal defendants for more than two decades.Fighting Grand Theft Charges
Under Florida Statutes section 812.014, a prosecutor can get a conviction for grand theft if they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly and unlawfully obtained or tried to obtain or used or tried to use someone else's property. You also must have had the intent to permanently or temporarily keep the owner from their right to the property or a benefit of the property, or appropriate the property to your own use or the use of someone not entitled to it. The property must have been worth at least $300. The prosecutor needs to put forward substantial competent evidence from which the appropriate intent may be inferred.
The potential penalties for grand theft usually depend on the value of the property. There are harsher penalties when property of a greater value was stolen or appropriated. The value of the property refers to its market value at the time of the theft or the cost of replacement of the property within a reasonable time after the theft. When the value cannot be determined, the trier of fact may find that the value is not less than a specific amount. A grand theft attorney in the St. Petersburg area can explain further about how the valuation process works.
It is third-degree grand theft when the property taken is $300-$5,000, $5,000-$10,000, $10,000-$20,000, a motor vehicle, a firearm, a testamentary instrument such as a will, a commercially farmed animal, a stop sign, 2,000 or more pieces of citrus fruit, anhydrous ammonia, or certain controlled substances. If convicted, you can face a sentence of five years’ imprisonment or five years’ probation, as well as a $5,000 fine.
You can be charged with second-degree grand theft when the property in question is $20,000-$100,000, cargo that is worth less than $50,000 and within the stream of commerce from a shipper's loading platform to a consignee's dock, law enforcement equipment worth at least $300, and emergency medical equipment worth at least $300. This is treated as a second-degree felony, and you can face a sentence of a maximum of 15 years’ imprisonment or probation, as well as a $10,000 fine.
You can be charged with first-degree grand theft when the property in question is worth at least $100,000, cargo worth at least $50,000 within the stream of commerce from a shipper's loading platform to a consignee's dock, or a semitrailer deployed by the police or another law enforcement agency. If you are caught perpetrating grand theft, and in the course of perpetrating this crime, you use a motor vehicle for help and thereby damage someone else's real property, or you damage personal or real property worth an amount more than $1,000, this is also first-degree grand theft. At sentencing, you can face a maximum sentence of 30 years’ imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.
You should not assume that a conviction is assured. There are defenses that a St. Petersburg grand theft attorney may be able to raise after investigating the case. As with other crimes, the prosecution must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and sometimes the strongest defense involves raising a doubt about one or more elements. For example, the prosecution must prove the requisite specific intent that you intended to deprive someone else of his or her property rights. If you had joint ownership in the property or a possessory interest in the property, or even if you had a mistaken belief that the property was yours, this can serve as a defense. Similarly, if you had a legal right to take the property or dispose of it, or you believed that you had this type of right, this may serve as a defense.
In some cases, based on discrepancies about the value of the property, a St. Petersburg criminal lawyer may be able to negotiate a plea for petty theft, which comes with less harsh penalties. However, each case is different, and sometimes additional charges can make it difficult to secure such a plea, such as charges of burglary or the use of a firearm.Hire an Experienced Grand Theft Lawyer in St. Petersburg
If you are looking for an aggressive and experienced lawyer to fight charges of grand theft, Hanlon Law may be able to represent you. Our founder and principal, Will Hanlon, has been providing dedicated criminal defense representation since 1994. You can call Hanlon Law at (727) 897-5413 or use our online form.