Florida Petit and Grand Theft Laws

In the state of Florida, a person commits theft by taking or using someone else's property while having the requsite criminal intent.

Defining Theft Under Florida Law

In the state of Florida, a person commits theft by taking or using someone else's property while having the requisite criminal intent. Specifically, Florida law states that a person commits theft when “he or she knowingly obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or to use, the property of another with intent to, either temporarily or permanently:

  • deprive the other person of a right to the property or a benefit from the property, or
  • appropriate the property to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to the use of the property.” (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 812.014.)

Classification and Punishment of Theft in Florida

Petit Theft of the Second Degree

In Florida, the lowest level theft offense is called "petit theft", rather than the more commonly known “petty theft.” If the property stolen is valued at less than $100, the offender commits petit theft of the second degree, which is a misdemeanor of the second degree. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 812.014.) A sentence of imprisonment of not more than 60 days and a fine not to exceed $500 can result from conviction of a misdemeanor of the second degree in Florida. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 77.082, 77.083.)

Petit Theft of the First Degree

If the property stolen is valued at $100 or more, but less than $300, the offender commits petit theft of the first degree, which is punishable as a misdemeanor of the first degree. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 812.014.) After a conviction for a misdemeanor of the first degree, the offender may receive a definite term of imprisonment of not less than one year and a fine of not more than $1,000. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 77.082, 77.083.)

Grand Theft of the Third Degree

A variety of different theft offenses can constitute grand theft of the third degree (considered a felony of the third degree in Florida), including theft of:

  • property valued between $100 and $300, taken from in or around someone's home
  • property valued at less than $20,000 (generally; check the statute for specifics)
  • wills
  • firearms
  • a motor vehicle
  • any commercially farmed animal
  • any fire extinguisher
  • more than 2,000 individual pieces of citrus fruit
  • any property taken from a construction site
  • any stop sign
  • anhydrous ammonia, or
  • any amount of a controlled substance. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 812.014.)

A felony of the third degree can result in a term of imprisonment of not more than 5 years and a fine not to exceed $5,000. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 77.082, 77.083.)

Grand Theft of the Second Degree

Some theft offenses qualify as grand theft of the second degree, which is a felony of the second degree in the state of Florida. These include theft of:

  • property valued between $20,000 and $100,000
  • cargo which has entered interstate or intrastate commerce and is valued at less than $50,000
  • emergency medical equipment valued at $300 or more, or
  • law enforcement equipment valued at $300 or more. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 812.014.)

A felony of the second degree may result in a sentence of imprisonment of no more than 15 years and a fine of no more than $10,000. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 77.082, 77.083.)

Grand Theft of the First Degree

This is the most serious level of theft in Florida, and is considered a felony of the first degree. Grand theft of the first degree includes theft of:

  • property valued at $100,000 or more
  • a semitrailer deployed by a law enforcement officer
  • cargo which has entered interstate or intrastate commerce and is valued at more than $50,000, and
  • any grand theft in which the offender uses a motor vehicle as an instrument of the crime and causes more than $1,000 worth of damage to real or personal property. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 812.014.)

A felony of the first degree in Florida carries a sentence of imprisonment of not more than 30 years, and a fine of not more than $10,000. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 77.082, 77.083.)

Civil Penalties for Theft in Florida

Driver's License Suspension

Anyone convicted of misdemeanor theft in Florida, regardless of the value of the property stolen, may be subject to a driver’s license suspension. The court will definitely suspend the license of a theft offender whose criminal record includes a prior theft conviction.

A first license suspension cannot last longer than six months, and a second suspension cannot last longer than one year. If an offender is under the age of 18, a driver's license suspension or withholding of issuance may be used by the court as an alternative to commitment to the Department of Juvenile Justice, incarceration, or probation, so long as the person has not previously been convicted or adjudicated delinquent. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 812.014.)

Civil Liability for Theft

A person who commits theft (or the parent or legal guardian of a minor who commits theft or shoplifting) in Florida may be held civilly liable to the theft victim for the following amounts:

  • three times the amount of monetary damage caused (such as the retail value of the merchandise stolen in the case of shoplifting) or $200, whichever is greater, and
  • reimbursement of the theft victim's reasonable attorneys' fees and court costs.

At least 30 days prior to filing any action for civil liability, the victim of the theft must provide the offender with a written demand for payment. If the offender complies with the written demand for payment, the victim must issue a written release from further civil liability. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 772.11.)


Theft Charge in Florida: Effect of Prior Theft Convictions

An offense that would ordinarily be classified as petit theft in Florida will be bumped up to a first degree misdemeanor if the offender has previously been convicted of any theft offense. Likewise, two or more previous theft convictions will bump a petit theft offense up to a felony of the third degree.

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