Differences Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony Theft Charge
When a police officer is arresting you for a charge, you might not immediately know the consequences of that arrest. Hire a criminal attorney in Florida to review your case, as no two cases are the same.
Many factors go into the sentence you’ll face for your crime. One of the biggest factors is whether the court charges you with a misdemeanor or felony. The state could charge you with either crime if you’re facing a theft charge.
Misdemeanor Theft Charges in Florida
Misdemeanors are considered less severe than felonies. The severity of your theft charge will depend on the circumstances of the theft, including 1) the value of the property stolen and 2) who or what you stole from.
Qualifying for a Misdemeanor
Your case may qualify as a misdemeanor in Florida if:
- The value of the property you stole is less than $750
- You committed non-retail theft
So, if you walk into a store and shoplift $500 worth of items, you will face a misdemeanor charge. If you steal personal property, like a laptop or phone, the state will likely charge you with a misdemeanor even if the value exceeds that $750 limit.
This is because it’s much harder for the state to prove the exact value of personal property. You can value retail items by their price tag, but personal property may decrease in value over time.
Categories of Misdemeanors
For theft charges, misdemeanors are typically either in the first or second degree. If the stolen property was under $100, the court classifies the criminal offense as a second-degree misdemeanor. If you stole over $100 in property, you will face a first-degree misdemeanor.
Consequences of Misdemeanors
The consequences of misdemeanors are less severe than those of felonies. You don’t need a preliminary trial and will instead just stand before a judge to receive your sentence.
First-degree misdemeanors are subject to up to a year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. Alternatively, if Florida charges you with a second-degree misdemeanor, you can face up to $500 in fines or 60 days in jail. If given jail time for a misdemeanor, you would serve at county or city jail.
If you’re facing a misdemeanor charge, contact a criminal defense lawyer.
Felony Theft Charges in Florida
Felony theft charges are for more serious criminal offenses. These are no longer petty theft or shoplifting cases.
Qualifying for a Felony
To receive a felony charge for your theft, the property stolen must meet or exceed $750. The exact value of the property you stole will determine the category of felony the court charges you with. You can face a second- or third-degree felony for a theft charge.
Consequences for a Felony
Third-degree felonies can result in up to five years in federal prison or up to $5,000 in fines. On the other hand, second-degree felonies are punishable by up to 15 years in prison or a maximum of $10,000 in fines.
You will also need to go through a preliminary trial with a jury for a felony charge. Hiring a criminal attorney in Florida will help guide you through this process. If you’re given jail time, you’ll serve your time in federal prison rather than county jail.
Facing a Theft Charge? Contact the Law Office of Michael White
If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges, hire a criminal attorney in Florida from the Law Office of Michael White.
Our team at the Law Office of Michael White is a private practice dedicated to protecting the interests of those accused of crimes in Florida. Contact us anytime at 954-270-0769, where someone will be waiting for your call.