Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill that increases the felony theft threshold from $300 to $750 to bring Florida’s outdated theft statutes current and more aligned with those of other states, this is the first such change to take effect in over 30 years. Effective October 1, 2019, the bill received unanimous approval in the House and near-unanimous approval in the Senate, before DeSantis signed it.
Although the increase to $750 is progress, our defense law firm hoped this threshold would have been raised to at least $1,000. Trial attorney Ben Stechschulte explains more about this law update to the felony threshold.
What is the Felony Theft Threshold in Florida?
A threshold is the worth of goods stolen that raises the degree of crime from a misdemeanor to a felony. The current threshold for felony theft is the second-lowest in the U.S. Under the former law, if someone stole an article worth $325, they could have been charged with third-degree grand theft, which can result in a prison sentence of 5 years along with a fine of up to $5,000. However, petty thefts have a maximum sentence of one year. The increase is intended to make the repercussions for theft more current.
On top of the legal consequences, the convicted individual could have met several collateral penalties, including loss of weapon rights and trouble getting work or housing. Under the changed law, an individual will now meet felony theft charges only if the item is valued $750 or more. If an individual takes an item worth below that threshold, they will be charged with a misdemeanor.
Although the threshold has been raised, theft charges are serious and could have staggering penalties. If you or a loved one has been arrested for theft, contact our top-rated criminal defense attorney in Tampa.
Aggregation Period Also Increased
Moreover, this new law also changes theft offenses aggregation period, which is the number of days in which the worth of goods for multiple offenses will be totaled. The timeframe extended from 2 days to 30 days with the legislation changes.
That is, if an individual steals property valued at $200 and then procures another item worth $600 ten days later, the value would be calculated together for a total of $800. Above the new felony threshold standard.
What Impact May this Change Have?
This is a good piece of criminal justice reform in Florida. According to a study of 39 states that have increased their thresholds since 2000, there was no change in property crime rates in the states that have already raised felony theft thresholds.
Those working diligently on this are working to extend these thresholds as well as bring more flexibility to the courtroom for sentencing. Also, under the new legislation, felony charges for a driver caught without a license 3 times will be eliminated.
For Effective Legal Counsel, Contact Stechshulte Nell Attorneys at Law
If you find yourself encountering a theft charge, retain the services of an expert defense lawyer as soon as possible. Backed by over 15 years of legal experience in the Tampa Bay area, our trial attorney knows how to help you navigate the changes to the statutes and how they could impact your case.
At Stechschulte Nell, our top priority is to defend your rights, and we will work persistently to get you the best possible outcome for your case with the goal of dropped or reduced charges. Call us 24 hours/day.