Florida law has different categories of theft, which range from Petit Theft, which is a misdemeanor, to Grand Theft, which is a felony. If you’ve been charged with theft that involves a firearm, it is always considered a felony. While most theft charges can change in severity according to the value of the property stolen (along with other factors), the theft of a firearm is always considered Felony Grand Theft regardless of the value of the property stolen.
What Is Grand Theft?
Grand Theft is the crime of unlawfully taking property that is worth more than $300. However, it’s important to know that the theft of a firearm that is worth less than $300 is still considered Grand Theft.
Grand Theft Punishment
If convicted of Grand Theft, there is a wide range of punishments you could face depending on the severity of the charge. For the crime of Theft Of A Firearm, the charge is Third-Degree Grand Theft. If convicted of Third-Degree Grand Theft, you could face a maximum prison sentence of 15 years, 15 years of probation or a fine of up to $10,000. You could also face any combination of those punishments.
Charges could be further compounded by other factors by the commission of other criminal acts, such as Assault or Murder. The Theft Of A Firearm, for example, is considered a third-degree felony in the State of Florida, but it usually is not a standalone crime. If you’re charge with Burglary for breaking into someone’s home and taking their gun, you could face a Burglary charge and a Third-Degree Felony Charge for Theft Of A Firearm.
Burden of Proof
In all theft cases in Florida, the burden of proof is the same. According to Florida Statue § 812.014, a prosecutor must prove the following:
That the defendant knowingly obtained or used, or endeavored to obtain or to use, the property of another with intent to, either temporarily or permanently: (a) Deprive the other person of a right to the property or a benefit from the property and (b) Appropriate the property to the defendant’s own use or to the use of any other person not entitled to the use of the property.
Fortunately, there are defenses to a theft charge.
Grand Theft Defenses
There are three major defenses to a theft charge.
- You own the property. If you have part (or whole) ownership in the property that was taken, it could be used as a defense to a theft charge. For example, if you and your ex-spouse purchased a firearm during your marriage, you might have a claim to ownership—at least partial ownership.
- You didn’t intend to steal. In the State of Florida, a theft charge only sticks if there is an intention to steal. If you took the firearm without knowing it, this may be a good defense to a grand theft charge.
- It’s junk or trash. If you are charged with stealing a firearm that is obviously worthless (i.e. broken and not functional) it may be a defense against a theft charge, since junk/trash is not property and therefore it cannot be stolen.
If you’re facing a grand theft charge in Key West, contact an experience criminal defense attorney today.