Governor Ron DeSantis approved changes in felony theft sentencing which is an important step in the right direction. Governor DeSantis recently signed into law a bill that increases the felony theft threshold from $300 to $750. “So that the punishment matches the crime more appropriately for modern times,” said Scott McCoy with the Southern Poverty Law Center. “That hadn’t been raised since the ’80s.”
What Is a Theft Threshold?
A theft threshold is the value of property stolen that increases the offense from a misdemeanor to a felony. Under the previous law, if a person took an item worth $305, they could have been charged with third-degree grand theft, which carried a prison sentence of 5 years and a fine of up to $5,000, and other consequences, such as the right to possess a firearm. A convicted felon can have difficulty getting a job or housing. This is the first change to the legal threshold for felony theft in 35 years.
Under the previous law, stealing a cellphone worth more than $300 could have landed a person in prison for multiple years, plus all the other felony conviction consequences. Now, theft of goods worth less than $750 in Florida will no longer be classified as a felony. Even at $750, Florida’s felony theft threshold remains the lowest in the South Eastern United States. (Pixabay). Alabama, South Carolina, and Georgia all have felony theft thresholds set at more than $1,200.
Under the new law, a person will now face felony theft charges only if the item is worth $750 or more. If a person takes an item valued below that threshold, they can only be convicted of a misdemeanor. “If you steal something $750 and below you’re still committing a misdemeanor. It’s still a crime. You can still go to jail for up to a year,” said Scott McCoy with the Southern Poverty Law Center. The new law also changes the theft crimes aggregation period.
What Is a Theft Crimes Aggregation Period?
The aggregation period is the number of days in which the value of items for multiple offenses will be totaled. Under the old law, if a person took property worth $100 on one day and then took another item worth $205 the next day, the value would be calculated together for a sum of $305, and they could have been charged with a third-degree felony. With the new changes, the aggregation period changed from two days to 30 days. That means if someone steals $750 over a one month period, they can be charged with a felony.
Why Should I Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney?
If you or a loved one have been arrested for theft it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. The difference between petit theft and grand theft is complex. Petit theft is a misdemeanor. Grand theft is a felony, which can lead to a long prison sentence.
Why Fernandez & Hernandez?
Fernandez & Hernandez can assist and guide you through the process. Theft cases can be complex. Fernandez & Hernandez may be able to help you find a solution. If you need legal assistance with a theft charge call Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Daniel J. Fernandez of Fernandez & Hernandez at 813-229-5353.