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What is the Difference Between Grand Theft and Petit Theft?

Theft is a serious criminal offense. If you are arrested and charged with theft in Florida, you could face jail time—potentially a significant amount of time behind bars. What penalties will you face? The answer depends on a number of different factors, including whether or not you are facing allegations of grand theft or petit theft. Within this article, our Stuart theft defense lawyer provides a comprehensive overview of the difference between grand theft and petit theft in Florida.

The Difference Between Grand Theft and Petit Theft

Theft is a Serious Criminal Offense in Florida

Theft is classified as a serious criminal offense in Florida. Any allegation of theft should absolutely not be taken lightly. A theft conviction can result in hefty fines, restitution, and prison time. If you are facing either a petit theft charge or a grand theft charge, you should consult with a lawyer.

Understanding the Two Categories of Theft Charges in Florida

In Florida, theft charges are split into two broad categories. If you are arrested for theft, you could be charged with either:

  • Petit Theft: Petit theft is a misdemeanor offense. It involves the unlawful taking of property valued below a specific threshold. In Florida, the threshold is set at $750 or less (2024). Still, even though it is a misdemeanor, it is still a big issue. A petit theft conviction can carry a maximum of 12 months in jail in Florida. The exact punishment can vary depending on prior offenses and the specific details of the case.
  • Grand Theft: Under Florida law (Florida Statutes § 812.014), grand theft is a felony criminal offense. You can be charged with a felony theft offense if the value of the money, property, or assets that was stolen is in excess of $750. Grand theft generally carries up to five years in prison for a conviction. However, if the value of theft exceeds $20,000, the maximum state prison time can be even higher.

To be clear, the elements of petit theft and grand theft are the same. The offense is classified differently based on the value of what was stolen. That is the key difference.

Theft Can Be Treated as an “Aggregate” Offense in Florida

In Florida, theft can be treated as an “aggregate” offense, which means that multiple theft incidents involving the same victim or scheme can be combined into a single charge. The approach is particularly notable in cases where the thefts occur over a period of time rather than as a single act. By aggregating the value of the stolen property, prosecutors can elevate the severity of the charge from petit theft to grand theft. It is a big deal because it could lead to someone facing a felony charge when they otherwise would have only been subject to a petit theft (misdemeanor) offense.

Here is an example: Consider a situation where an employee at a retail store steals small amounts of merchandise over several weeks. There are three separate acts. In the first, $150 is stolen. In the second, $400 is stolen. In the third, $300 is stolen. As separate cases, those would all be misdemeanor theft offenses. However, Florida allows prosecutors to “aggregate” the offense. The total value is $850—meaning the employee could be subject to a felony grand theft charge.

You Have the Right to Defend Yourself Against a Theft Charge

Every person in Florida who is accused of theft—whether petit theft or grand theft—has the right to defend themselves. It is the duty of prosecutors to prove a person’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. At The Law Office of Denise Miller, PA, we are committed to providing aggressive legal advocacy to people facing theft charges in Florida.

The Takeaway: The fundamental difference between a petit theft charge and a grant theft charge in Florida is that petit theft is a misdemeanor, and grand theft is a felony. The value of the money/goods that was allegedly stolen will determine the classification of the charge. Notably, a felony grand theft charge carries far more serious penalties.

Contact Our Stuart, FL Theft Defense Attorney Today

At The Law Office of Denise Miller, PA, our Stuart theft defense attorney provides solutions-focused legal representation. We know that good people can get tied up in difficult legal situations. Every person deserves their day in court. Do not take on a theft charge alone. Call us now or contact us online for your free, completely confidential initial consultation. With our office located in Stuart, we are well-positioned to defend theft charges all across the surrounding area.

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