Theft Attorneys in Miami, FL

At The Edelstein Firm, we understand the serious consequences that can result from a theft arrest or conviction. Any conviction can negatively impact every aspect of your life, from your reputation and career to your family life and personal relationships. That is why it is so important that you choose theft attorneys in Miami, Florida with the necessary skill and experience to help you avoid jail time, a criminal record, and these potential life-long negative consequences.

The vast majority of property crimes are prosecuted in state court, although there are also federal crimes that target theft. Property offenses cover a broad range of criminalized conduct that shares a common element: the temporary or permanent taking of another’s property without consent. Unlike most fraud crimes, there is no requirement that the defendant use any false statements, misrepresentations, or trickery to obtain the property. The most common theft offenses are shoplifting (also referred to as “retail theft), petit theft, and grand theft. Technically speaking, there is no crime called “shoplifting” under Florida law. A shoplifting offense can be charged as a “retail theft” under Florida Statute 812.015 but is most often charged as either petit theft or grand theft. When theft is combined with some element of force or violence, it is classified as a robbery and is categorized as a violent crime.

Types of Theft: Misdemeanor vs. Felony Charges

Florida Statute 812.014 categorizes types of theft by the value of the property that was allegedly stolen. As the value of the property increases so does the degree of the charged crime. Generally speaking, the illegal taking of property with a value of less than $750 is petit theft, a misdemeanor. It can either be in the first or second degree depending on the value of the property. If the property’s value is between $100 or more but less than $750, it would be a misdemeanor of the first degree (assuming the defendant is not alleged to have entered a home or dwelling to steal the property). The illegal taking of property with a value of less than $100 would be a second-degree misdemeanor.

When the value is $750 or more, it becomes a third-degree felony crime. This arbitrary line between a first-degree misdemeanor and a third-degree felony is significant because a third-degree felony is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison compared to the maximum one-year sentence for a first-degree misdemeanor. This element of value, therefore, can take on great importance in some cases as it can radically affect the possible punishment a defendant faces.

Degrees of  Felony Theft

Although value is the most common element affecting the degree of theft, other facts can affect the degree of the crime charged. The nature of the property alone—regardless of value—can determine the degree. For example, in cases where firearms or motor vehicles are allegedly stolen, the crime is classified as a third-degree felony. Also, sometimes the type of property at issue combined with its value is determinative. As stated above, however, most of the time the value alone determines the degree of a felony grand theft charge:

  • First Degree – The property value is $100,000 or more
  • Second Degree – The property value $20,000 or more but less than $100,000
  • Third Degree – The property value is $750 or more but less than $20,000

Theft Penalties

Penalties are based on the degree charged. The least serious charge—petit theft (when the value is less than $100)—is a second-degree misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 60 days in the county jail and a fine of up to $500. If the current misdemeanor theft charge is a subsequent offense, and the defendant has a prior conviction for it, the State Attorney’s Office can charge the new case as a first-degree misdemeanor increasing the maximum jail sentence to 364 days in the county jail and the fine to a maximum of $1,000. Additionally, a prosecutor may file a misdemeanor theft as a felony if the defendant has two or more previous convictions, increasing the maximum prison sentence faced to five years and the potential fine to a maximum of $5,000.

The degree of grand theft directly correlates to the felony degree of the crime. For example, grand theft in the first degree is classified as a first-degree felony. A first-degree felony is punishable by a maximum of 30 years in state prison.

Degree of TheftFelony DegreeMaximum 
First       First30 years in prison
Second Second15 years in  prison
ThirdThird5 years in prison

Civil Penalties for Theft Crimes

In addition to being prosecuted for theft crimes, people who have been accused of theft oftentimes face possible civil penalties under Florida Statute § 772.11. Specifically, the statute says that victims can sue the alleged offender for three times the amount of the actual damages they suffered if they can prove by clear and convincing evidence that they were injured in any way. It also states that the victim is entitled to minimum damages in the amount of $200, reasonable attorney’s fees, and court costs.

Under the law, the alleged victim must send a written demand to the alleged offender for damages. If the alleged offender doesn’t pay the amount demanded within 30 days, the alleged victim can file a lawsuit. This civil law is completely separate from any criminal prosecution. Someone being criminally prosecuted may not receive a civil demand from a person or company. The opposite is true as well. Someone who receives a civil demand may not necessarily face criminal charges.

Most people accused of retail theft also receive a civil theft demand from a law firm representing the store demanding that they pay $200 or risk being sued and held responsible for three times the actual amount of the property alleged to have been stolen. It doesn’t even matter if the store recovered the property. Under the law, if the store sues you and can prove that you committed the evidence by clear and convincing evidence, you may be ordered to pay three times the amount you were alleged to have stolen, plus attorney’s fees.

Theft Defenses

  • Good faith belief of ownership or right to possess the property
  • Consent was given by the property owner
  • Equal Ownership
  • Involuntary intoxication
  • Voluntary Abandonment
  • Valueless Property

Contact an Experienced Theft Lawyer in Miami

Whether you or a loved one has been arrested or is under investigation, it is critical to consult with an experienced theft lawyer in Miami as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected. You need the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney to guide you through the process and maximize your chances of resolving your case with a favorable outcome.

Over the years, our defense lawyers have represented hundreds of clients in a wide range of cases. There is a good chance that we have dealt with your type of case and have represented clients who shared some of the same needs and concerns that you have. Feel free to browse through the results section of our site for a representative sample of some of our past cases and the results we have achieved for our clients.

By taking immediate action of hiring an attorney to defend yourself, you are minimizing the chances that your theft case will have lasting consequences for your career, personal life, and reputation.

CALL US NOW for a CONFIDENTIAL CONSULTATION at (305) 538-4545,  or simply take a moment to fill out our confidential and secure intake form.* The additional details you provide will greatly assist us in responding to your inquiry.


*Due to the large number of people who contact us requesting our assistance, it is strongly suggested that you take the time to provide us with specific details regarding your case by filling out our confidential and secure intake form. The additional details you provide will greatly assist us in responding to your inquiry in a timely and appropriate manner.