When you hear the word “grand theft,” thoughts of an elaborate car theft or jewelry heist may spring to mind. However, in Florida, even taking low-value items can be considered grand theft–which is a felony offense with severe consequences.
For example, let’s say you’re a college student. One night, you and your friends are hanging out at the frat house, bored. You start to brainstorm silly antics to pass the time. One of you suggests that it would be funny to run down the street and unfasten the stop sign from its post. It sounds pretty ridiculous, but why not. You go along with your friends.
Unfortunately, the police catch you in the act. You’re arrested and taken to jail. “It’s just a stupid prank,” you think to yourself, and you expect to be released the following morning. To your shock and alarm, however, you’re charged with a third-degree felony! How did this happen?
Under Florida’s grand theft statute, there are a number of surprising offenses that constitute third-degree grand theft. In addition to expected offenses–such as stealing a gun, car or controlled substance–you could also face up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines if you take (or borrow without permission) any of the following:
- A fire extinguisher
- A stop sign
- A farm animal
- An item from a construction site
- Large amounts of citrus fruit
- Anything valued at more than $300
We all make stupid mistakes when we’re young. But in Florida, such a mistake can cost you dearly. It’s important to enlist the help of an attorney experienced in theft and property offenses who can build a solid defense for your case.