If you’re facing a charge of Grand Theft in the State of Florida, the valuation of the property at the time of the crime is critical in determining the exact charge and the penalties you will face.
What Is Grand Theft?
A person is guilty of Grand Theft in Florida when they intentionally and willfully deprive another person of the use of their property. Also, anyone who attempts to take the property of another person temporarily or permanently is guilty of Grand Theft. The property in question must be valued at $300 or more in order for the crime to be considered Grand Theft in Florida. (source)
The value of the property that was stolen will help determine exactly what charges the defendant will face. The Florida courts will determine the value of the property by looking at what it was worth at the time of the crime.
Example: If a defendant is charged with stealing a smartphone, it does not matter that the phone was originally valued at $900 if it’s been two years since the phone was purchased new. The court would only ask what the phone’s value was at the time of the crime, and that is the value that will be used.
Example: If a defendant is charged with stealing a collection of memorabilia, it won’t matter if the value of that memorabilia goes up six months after the crime. The court will only consider the value of the stolen property at the time and place the crime took place.
These valuations are important because they severely impact what type of penalties someone convicted of Grand Theft can receive.
If you’re accused of stealing property that’s valued at less than $20,000, you will be charged with Grand Theft of the Third Degree and face up to 5 years in prison. But if you’re accused of stealing property that’s valued at more than $20,000 but less than $100,000, you will be charged with Grand Theft of the Second Degree and face up to 15 years in prison. This is why getting accurate valuations on stolen property is so important for the accused—just a few hundred dollars difference can send someone convicted of Grand Theft to prison many more years.
There are cases when the value of a property cannot be determined, in those cases the value will be determined by the replacement cost of the property. It’s important to note that the court will take into account the depreciation of the property and its general condition, at the time it was stolen, to determine what the replacement cost should be.
If you’re facing a Grand Theft charge, it’s important to work with a Florida criminal law attorney who understands how property is valued and how that value can impact your case.