Florida's theft statute covers a broad range of criminal acts—from stealing cash, jewelry, or services to embezzling money. Below we outline what the law covers and the penalties for theft.
Florida defines theft as knowingly obtaining, using, or attempting to obtain or use another’s property, with the intent to permanently or temporarily:
Despite the short definition, the law covers a broad range of conduct. For instance, a person can wrongfully "obtain" or "use" another's property through a physical taking, but these terms also include exercising control over property, obtaining property by fraud or false promises, or making an unauthorized transfer or use of the property. Also, the term “property” is broader than it appears and includes real property, personal property, property rights and benefits, and public and private services.
Some examples of theft include:
(Fla. Stat. Ann. §§ 812.012, .014 (2020).)
Below are the penalties for petit theft and grand theft under Florida’s laws. Be aware that Florida law contains separate penalties for other theft-related crimes, including dealing in stolen property, Medicaid fraud, theft of trade secrets, and copper theft. Make sure to consult Florida Statutes or contact an attorney if you have questions.
Similar to other states, the penalties for theft depend on several factors, such as the amount stolen, the type of property or services stolen, and the circumstances involved.
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.
A person convicted of a second-degree misdemeanor faces up to 60 days of jail time and a $500 fine.
If the property stolen is valued at $100 or more but less than $750, the offender commits petit theft of the first degree, which is punishable as a misdemeanor of the first degree.
A person convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor faces up to one year’s imprisonment and a $1,000 fine.
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:
A felony of the third degree can result in up to five years' imprisonment and a fine not to exceed $5,000.
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:
A felony of the second degree carries a sentence of imprisonment of no more than 15 years and a fine of no more than $10,000.
The most serious level of theft in Florida is grand theft of the first degree and includes theft of:
A first-degree felony carries a sentence of imprisonment of not more than 30 years and a fine up to $10,000.
(Fla. Stat. Ann. §§ 775.082, 775.083, 812.014 (2020).)
Florida increases penalties for habitual felony offenses, repeat petit (or petty) thefts, and thefts involving a victim age 65 or older.
For a third felony offense, a court can impose an extended prison term. The maximum prison sentence doubles for a second- or third-degree felony. And a felony in the first degree can be punished by up to life in prison. (Fla. Stat. § 775.084 (2020).)
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. (Fla. Stat. § 812.014 (2020).)
Theft involving a victim age 65 or older carries the following penalties:
In addition, a person who steals more than $1,000 from an elderly victim must pay restitution (make the victim whole for their losses) and perform up to 500 hours of community service. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 812.0145 (2020).)
Like other states, Florida has criminal and civil penalties for shoplifting, which Florida calls retail theft.
Retail theft falls under the general theft penalties listed above, subject to a few special provisions.
The court must order repeat shoplifters to either pay a fine between $50 and $1,000 or perform community service. And any person who possesses, uses, or attempts to use an anti-shoplifting device in a retail establishment commits a felony of the third degree. Organized retail theft also carries enhanced penalties. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 812.015 (2020).)
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 (2020).)
If you are charged with theft or shoplifting, speak to a local criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you navigate the criminal justice system, understand the charges against you, and protect your rights. Be sure to ask your attorney about the immediate and future consequences of a criminal conviction. A criminal record for theft can make it difficult to get a job, housing, or loan at a later date.