Grand Theft Auto Defined By Florida Law
In Florida, "grand theft" applies to any stolen item that is worth more than $300, as well as all motor vehicles. Grand theft auto applies to cars, motorcycles, and trucks.
Law enforcement may charge you with grand theft auto if you steal, obtain, or use another person's car without permission. They may also charge you if you attempt to do so, whether or not you succeed. The state classifies grand theft auto as a "crime of intent," meaning that you intentionally take the motor vehicle. A lack of intent may be an appropriate defense to your case.
First, Second, and Third Degree Grand Theft Auto
Most grand theft auto charges in the state of Florida are prosecuted as third-degree felonies. A third-degree offense may not result in as much prison time as second or first-degree crimes, yet the consequences will still follow you for life.
Second-Degree Grand Theft Auto
A prosecutor's office may upgrade the charge to a second-degree felony if the car is worth more than $20,0000 but less than $100,000. If you steal or attempt to steal a vehicle under a state of emergency, your crime will also likely be a second-degree felony, even if the criteria meet third-degree charges otherwise.
First-Degree Grand Theft Auto
A first-degree felony is the most severe grand theft auto charge you can receive. You are likely to receive this charge if you steal, or attempt to steal, a vehicle that is worth more than $100,000. Additionally, if the vehicle is property of law enforcement or the government, the prosecutor is likely to charge you with first-degree grand theft auto.
If you use a stolen motor vehicle while committing another crime, damage property, or cause bodily harm to an individual, it may also constitute a first-degree grand theft auto charge.
No matter what degree charge you receive, having a grand theft auto lawyer defend you in court is vital. You may be able to avoid prison time or steep fines.
Penalties for Grand Theft Auto Charge in Florida
According to Florida Statue 812.014, as a felony charge, grand theft auto is always punishable by prison time. Even a third-degree charge can land you in prison for up to five years. Second and first-degree charges can get you even more time. You will also likely have to pay steep fines and court costs.
A felony conviction will affect the rest of your life, even if you do not have to go to prison. Felons can have a challenging time finding employment and housing, and your reputation in the community can be significantly damaged.
Best Defense for Grand Theft Auto Charge
Having a grand theft auto attorney, such as Matthew Shafran at Weinstein Legal, represent you provides you with the best chance of devising an effective defense strategy. If you are looking to stay out of prison and minimize the impact a conviction can have on your life, you must have the best legal team fighting on your behalf. There are several defense strategies that a grand theft auto lawyer will employ in an attempt to prove your innocence.
Possible defenses include a lack of intent. What this means is that you did not intend to steal the vehicle. This can apply in a situation such as borrowing a car from someone you know who files false charges against you.
Additionally, if you were under the impression that you did have permission to use the motor vehicle, you may have a strong defense. Or, if someone loans or sells you a car that you do not know is stolen property, it is unlikely that you can be held responsible for the crime.
If you are facing first or second-degree grand theft auto charges based on the value of the vehicle law enforcement accuses you of stealing, it may be possible to lessen the offense to a third-degree felony by proving the vehicle is not worth as much as the prosecutor's office or the party filing charge against you claims.
However, never face the courts alone in an attempt to prove any of these scenarios. Your best chance at gaining a favorable outcome is to hire a grand theft auto lawyer to put together a solid defense on your behalf.
Hiring a Grand Theft Auto Lawyer in Florida
If you are facing criminal charges for grand theft auto in West Palm Beach or Fort Lauderdale, Florida, contact defense attorney Matt Shafran at Weinstein Legal today. The prosecutor's office is already working on your case. You deserve the best legal team working tirelessly on your side as well.