Although theft may sound like a straightforward charge, there are many factors that may affect what level of crime it is and what the penalty of a conviction will be. The basic elements of theft include intentionally depriving someone of his or her property.
Florida statute 812 provides the details about theft, robbery and related offenses.
The value of the property makes a major difference in the seriousness of the penalties, and the value generally refers to the market value at the time that the theft occurred. If it is not possible to determine the market value, then a judge may use the replacement value. The judge has the discretion to set a minimum amount as the value if there is no way to accurately figure it.
Type of property
Theft of some property will result in higher penalties even if it does not meet the value criteria. Items such as emergency medical equipment, law enforcement equipment, firearms, citrus fruit, stop signs, commercial farm animals, vehicles and fire extinguishers may have higher consequences than the actual market value would suggest because of the nature of the object.
Property could refer to services rather than tangible items. A person’s labor on a project, repair or maintenance, or a person’s performance, exhibition or professional service is property that has value.
If a person committing grand theft damages someone’s property in the process, the charge gets more serious. This is also true if the person causes damages by using a vehicle to commit the theft.
A good defense strategy on a theft charge may involve arguing the value of the property, the intent to deprive the owner of it or some other factor.