Florida Laws on Petit Theft, Grand Theft, and Shoplifting

A conviction for theft can carry serious consequences, including jail or prison time, fines, restitution orders, civil liability, and a criminal record. Learn more about the grand and petit theft in Florida.

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.

What Constitutes Theft in Florida?

Florida defines theft as knowingly obtaining, using, or attempting to obtain or use another’s property, with the intent to permanently or temporarily:

  • deprive the person of the property, or
  • convert the property to an unauthorized use (such as embezzlement or misappropriation).

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:

  • a person who walks by a restaurant table and grabs someone's wallet
  • the shoplifter who grabs a video game off the store shelf
  • a daughter who has control over an elderly parent’s bank account and misuses the money to buy herself a yacht, and
  • the neighbor who splices cable lines to get free video channels.

(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.

Classification and Punishment of Theft in Florida

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.

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.

A person convicted of a second-degree misdemeanor faces up to 60 days of jail time and a $500 fine.

Petit Theft of the First Degree

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.

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 at $750 or more but less than $20,000
  • property valued between $100 and $750 and taken from in or around someone's home
  • wills
  • firearms
  • a motor vehicle (unless used in the commission of a crime, see first-degree grand theft)
  • any commercially farmed animal
  • an installed fire extinguisher (not inventory)
  • more than 2,000 individual pieces of citrus fruit
  • any property taken from a construction site
  • a stop sign
  • anhydrous ammonia, or
  • any amount of a controlled substance.

A felony of the third degree can result in up to five years' imprisonment and a fine not to exceed $5,000.

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 $5,000 and $20,000 stolen during a declared state of emergency (looting)
  • property valued between $20,000 and $100,000
  • cargo valued at less than $50,000 which has entered interstate or intrastate commerce, or
  • emergency medical or law enforcement equipment valued at $300 or more.

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.

Grand Theft of the First Degree

The most serious level of theft in Florida is grand theft of the first degree and includes theft of:

  • property valued at $100,000 or more
  • a semitrailer deployed by a law enforcement officer
  • cargo valued at more than $50,000 which has entered interstate or intrastate commerce
  • any grand theft in which the offender uses a motor vehicle (other than the getaway car) as an instrument of the crime
  • any grand theft that causes more than $1,000 worth of damage to real or personal property, or
  • grand theft of the second degree that occurs during a declared state of emergency.

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).)

Enhanced Penalties for Theft

Florida increases penalties for habitual felony offenses, repeat petit (or petty) thefts, and thefts involving a victim age 65 or older.

Habitual Felony Offender

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).)

Repeat Petit Thefts

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).)

Elderly Victims

Theft involving a victim age 65 or older carries the following penalties:

  • for property valued between $300 and $10,000, the crime is a felony in the third degree
  • for property valued between $10,000 and $50,000, the crime is a felony in the second degree, and
  • for property valued at $50,000 or more, the crime is a felony in the first degree.

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).)

Shoplifting or Retail Theft in Florida

Like other states, Florida has criminal and civil penalties for shoplifting, which Florida calls retail theft.

Criminal Penalties

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).)

Civil Liability and Penalties

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 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 (2020).)

Talk to an Attorney

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.

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