Theft by Taking
Theft by taking is an act of criminal intent. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program (2016), theft also known as larceny, is defined as the unlawful taking, leading, carrying, or riding away of one’s property from the possession or constructive possession of another with the intention to deprive the victim of his or her property. Theft by taking contains equal significance as larceny, but at a much broader spectrum. Common examples of theft are to include motor vehicles, bicycles, shoplifting, and pick-pocketing. This also includes the taking of any article or property that has not been taken by force, violence, or fraud. An attempt to commit larceny or theft by taking are included, whereas forgery, confidence games, check fraud, and embezzlement are not included.
Petit or petty theft is the criminal act of using or taking by theft property considered to be of low value. This would include any property valued under $300 but higher than $100. This is a misdemeanor charge with penalties that may include community service, probation, restitution, and even jail time. During the trial, prosecutors must prove two elements beyond a reasonable doubt. This includes proving the defendant knowingly and unlawfully obtained said property and that the defendant did the criminal act with intent to either temporarily or permanently deprive the victim of the benefit of his or her property. Besides the common taking by theft acts, other acts can include skipping out on a restaurant bill, sneaking into a movie theater without paying admission, or switching price tags or package contents with the intent to save money. Petty theft in Florida is considered a second degree misdemeanor with a penalty of up to sixty days in jail. A second charge of petty theft is considered a first degree misdemeanor with a penalty of up to one year of incarceration as well as loss of driving privileges.
Grand theft is the unlawful and intentional taking by the theft the property of another valued at $300 or more. This is a felony offense under Florida law with penalties that may include probation, fines, restitution, prison, and a permanent criminal record that will affect and limit the defendant’s ability to find employment, rent homes, diminish the right to vote, perform jury duty, and purchase firearms. Grand theft is considered a “specific intent” crime which states the defendant must have the intent to steal as well as commit the act of theft. For prosecutors to strengthen a conviction, he or she must provide substantial competent evidence from which the jury may reasonably infer the felonious intent. The penalty for grand theft will depend on how each charge is classified whether it be a first, second, or third degree felony. The degree is classified generally on the value of the stolen property. Grand Theft of the First Degree carries penalties of up to 30 years in prison, with a maximum fine of $10,000. Grand Theft of the Second Degree is a Second Degree Felony, with penalties of up to 15 years in prison or 15 years of probation, and a $10,000 fine. Grand Theft of the Third Degree is classified as a third degree felony, with penalties of up to 5 years in prison or 5 years of probation and a $5,000 fine. The higher the value, the harsher the penalty.
Theft by Conversion
When a person has lawfully taken possession of funds or personal property of another with the intention to convert the funds or property into his or her own personal gain is known as theft by conversion. Typically, this occurs with rental agreements whereas the owner lends funds or property with the agreement to return the funds or property. The defendant in turn wrongfully uses the funds or sells the property for personal monetary gain. Examples of theft by conversion may include car rentals, home improvement tools, and investment funds. If a defendant rents a car then sells the car to gain profit, this would be theft by conversion.
Theft by Deception
Generally, theft by deception means the defendant has intentionally used deception to obtain control over one’s property or services. There are two common practices of theft by deception including false pretenses and larceny by trick. Deception through false pretense is when a person has convinced another to give up possession or ownership of his or her property through lying or misinterpretation of truth. Larceny by trick consists of simply tricking someone into giving up possession or ownership of his or her property. Examples of theft by deception would include accepting payment in exchange for false business or services, the false promise to pay in exchange of property, and knowingly writing and cashing a check with insufficient funds. Long term consequences of a theft conviction can severely limit an individual in terms of employment. Generally, employers will not hire someone with a theft by deception conviction because it becomes a liability to the company. Employers fear the applicant will have deceptive theft tendencies’ and therefore, will not hire that applicant. This frustration of lack of employment may have an effect on the defendant’s opportunity to pay restitution.