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How Is Theft Different from Robbery or Burglary?

While theft, robbery and burglary all involve stealing someone else’s property, each is differently defined under the law. Robbery must involve the use of force, violence, assault or fear to get the other person to relinquish the property. Burglary involves criminal intent for entering a building or property, but other crimes other than theft also qualify as burglary. By comparison, theft is a very broad crime covering many different types of stolen property.

Under Florida statutes, theft is defined as trying to obtain or use someone else’s property temporarily or permanently. You must have the intention to deprive the other person of the right or benefit of their property and use it for yourself or for someone else who is not entitled to use it.

Authorities charge theft based on the stolen property’s value, and categorize it as either petit (minor) theft or grand theft. Petit theft is a misdemeanor. Law enforcement officers charge you with second-degree petit theft when the stolen property value is less than $99. The maximum penalty is 60 days in jail, but you may be able to qualify for a misdemeanor diversion program, which allows for case dismissal after you complete the court-ordered program. Officials charge you with first-degree petit theft when the property value is $100 or more but less than $300. The maximum penalty is 364 days in jail. However, when you steal this value of property from a dwelling, you face burglary charges.

Grand theft falls into three degrees that carry prison sentences of five, 15 or 30 years. The third degree typically involves property valued between $300 and $19,000. Property values for the second degree are generally between $20,000 and $99,000. For the most part, first-degree grand theft involves property valued over $100,000.

How authorities charge the crime makes a considerable difference in sentencing. By seeking legal help from an experienced criminal defense law firm, you can work with a lawyer to seek reduced charges. A skilled attorney can negotiate a plea, argue for case dismissal or seek acquittal.