Defendants accused of theft in Florida often want to know if they will receive a felony or misdemeanor charge. The state has stiff punishments for those convicted of felony theft. However, not all theft receives a felony charge since the state bases the charges on value and quantity.
The Orlando Sentinel ran an article November 9, 2018 stating that the state has lower thresholds for theft meaning those caught stealing could see stiffer punishments than in other states. Anything stolen valued at more than $300 could result in a lifelong felony charge. This law has not changed since 1986 making it the second-lowest threshold in the nation.
In March 2018, the bill to raise the threshold failed to pass. The Florida Retail Federation opposes raising the threshold because they feel the current threshold catches serious thieves not the occasional shoplifter or mischievous teen. There is still some concern that the state is over-criminalizing behavior, but that does not appear to be changing any time soon.
Title XLVI Chapter 812 of the Florida Statutes for 2019 details theft in section 812.014. “A person commits theft if he or she knowingly obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or to use, the property of another with intent to” appropriate or deprive the person of their property on a temporary or permanent basis. The law provides different punishments depending on how much value the stolen property had.
Where, when and extent of damage all come into play when law enforcement charges a defendant. If convicted, theft could result in jail time and a fingerprint record.