Theft Crimes

Jacksonville Theft Lawyer

Protecting Defendants Throughout Duval County

A person can find themselves ensnared into facing theft charges for any number of reasons. Whether you’re someone who has been unjustly charged or someone who made a mistake and needs a second chance, you deserve vigorous legal representation. That’s the promise of the American system, and it’s what Monroe Law aims to provide for all of our clients. 

Call our Jacksonville theft lawyers today at (904) 507-6194 or fill out our online contact form. We offer free consultations and can meet via video for your convenience.

The Legal Definition of Theft 

There is a very specific legal definition of theft that serves to differentiate it from similar crimes and set the stage for the possible penalties that accompany conviction. 

The Florida criminal code defines theft as knowingly and unlawfully taking another’s property with the intent to deprive the victim of using permanently or temporarily said property or appropriating that property for their own use. 

In other words, theft is stealing what belongs to someone else and taking it for one’s self. 

It’s worth noting that this is different from the crimes of burglary and robbery, which can often be used interchangeably with theft. For a crime to be considered robbery, there must be force or intimidation involved. Burglary refers simply to the act of illegally entering the premises of another person, whether that be a house, office building, car, or computer. 

The penalties defendants can face if convicted of theft depend on the value of the property that is alleged to have been taken. On the low end of the spectrum, taking properly valued below $300 but at least $100 can result in 60 days of jail time and a $500 fine. On the other hand, if a defendant is charged with taking property valued at $100,000 or more, the prison sentence can be as long as 30 years, and the fine can escalate to $10,000. In between these two opposite ends of the spectrum is a broad middle ground. 

Judges often have leeway in what kind of sentence they ultimately hand down. Depending on the circumstances of the case, prosecutors may have the same leeway in deciding what kinds of charges to bring. That flexibility can be used to offer plea bargain deals to defendants. Before agreeing to any kind of deal, consult with our experienced Jacksonville theft attorney. 

Possible Defenses Against Theft

Every case is different, and the defense strategy employed will depend on the relevant facts and allegations of each one. But here are some common defenses that attorneys may use in theft cases: 

  • Lack of Criminal Intent: For a crime to be theft, the defendant must have taken the property knowingly. Did the defendant, who borrowed expensive tools from their neighbor and did not return them, really mean to steal? On an even higher level, was a misappropriation of funds in the corporate accounting office done intentionally? The prosecution must not only prove the offense itself, but they must also show criminal intent.
  • Duress: Let’s return to our misappropriation of funds example. Was the defendant coerced to undertake the illegal act? Any threats made must be considered credible and must be sufficiently grave to justify the theft. But if a jury can be persuaded of this, it’s a valid defense against theft charges. 
  • Returning Property: Strictly speaking, returning what was stolen doesn’t automatically absolve one of the theft. But it is a gesture of goodwill and may make an impact on the District Attorney who decides whether to file charges or the judge responsible for sentencing. 
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