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Grand Theft Motor Vehicle

The crime of Grand Theft involves the unlawful taking of property worth more than $300.

To prove the crime of Grand Theft, the State must prove that you took property from another person with the intent to:

  • Deprive the person of a right to the property or benefit of the property; or
  • Appropriate the property for personal use or for the use of another person not entitled to the use of the property.

Penalties for Grand Theft

There are three degrees of Grand Theft that can be committed in Florida. The degree of the crime and the corresponding penalties increase based on the value of the property taken.

The three degrees of Grand Theft in Florida are:

  • Grand Theft of the First Degree
  • Grand Theft of the Second Degree
  • Grand Theft of the Third Degree

Grand Theft of the First Degree

Grand Theft of the First Degree is committed if the property taken:

  • Is worth more than $100,000
  • Is shipping cargo worth more than $50,000

Grand Theft of the First Degree is classified as a First Degree Felony and is assigned a Level 7 offense severity ranking under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code.

If convicted of Grand Theft of the First Degree, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • A minimum sentence of twenty-one (21) months in prison,
  • A maximum sentence of thirty years in prison,
  • Thirty years of probation, or
  • A fine up to $10,000.

Grand Theft of the Second Degree

Grand Theft of the Second Degree is committed if the property taken:

  • Is worth less than $100,000, but more than $20,000.
  • Is shipping cargo worth less than $50,000.
  • Is emergency medical equipment worth more than $300.

Grand Theft of the Second Degree is classified as a Second Degree Felony and assigned a Level 6 offense severity ranking under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code.

If convicted of Grand Theft of the Third Degree, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • A maximum sentence of fifteen (15) years in prison,
  • Fifteen years of probation, or
  • A fine up to $10,000.

Grand Theft of the Third Degree

Grand Theft of the Third Degree is committed if the property taken:

  • Is worth less than $20,000, but more than $300.
  • Is a will, codicil, or other testamentary instrument.
  • Is a firearm.
  • Is a motor vehicle.

Grand Theft of the Third Degree is classified as a Third Degree Felony and assigned either a Level 4, 3, or 2 offense severity ranking under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code.

If convicted of Grand Theft of the Third Degree, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • A maximum sentence of five (5) years in prison,
  • Five (5) years of probation, or
  • A fine up to $5,000.

Defenses to Grand Theft

In addition to the pretrial defenses and trial defenses that can be raised in any criminal case, specific defenses to the crime of Grand Theft are:

  1. Equal Ownership
  2. Good Faith Possession
  3. Valueless Property
  4. Voluntary Abandonment

Equal Ownership

A co-owner of property cannot be convicted of Grand Theft for taking the property unless the complaining co-owner had a superior legal interest in the property. [1]

Good Faith Possession

Under Florida law, the crime of grand theft requires proof of a taking with the intent to steal. So a person who takes possession of an item with the good faith belief in the right to the property lacks the requisite intent to commit Grand Theft. As a result, a well-founded belief in one's right to allegedly stolen property constitutes a complete defense to the crime of Grand Theft. [2]

Valueless Property

Simply put, it is impossible to steal trash because Florida law only criminalizes the stealing of "property."

Property is defined as "anything of value" and the value is the "the market value of property at the time and place of the offense or, if such cannot be satisfactorily ascertained, the cost of replacement of the property within a reasonable time after the offense." [3]

Thus if someone places something by the road, it has become trash that presumably has no value.

Voluntary Abandonment

It is a defense to the crime of Grand Theft to abandon the attempt to commit the grand theft under circumstances indicating a complete and voluntary renunciation of the criminal purpose. [4]

Involuntary Abandonment

While voluntary abandonment is a defense to the crime of Grand Theft, involuntary abandonment is not a defense. The distinguishing characteristic between the two is the reason for abandoning the Grand Theft. [5]

A voluntary abandonment occurs when your conscious, unprompted by encountered circumstances, causes you to withdraw from the attempted grand theft.

On the other hand, an involuntary abandonment occurs when unanticipated circumstances (i.e. belief scheme discovered) causes a person to withdraw from the attempted grand theft.

If you have been arrested or charged with the crime of Grand Theft in the Tampa Bay area contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Marc Plotnick today.


Plotnick Law, P.A. serves clients throughout the Tampa Bay Area including but not limited to; St. Petersburg, Clearwater, & Bradenton



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