What Is Grand Theft?

Interviewer: I’ve heard of crimes such as grand theft auto or grand theft. What are those about and when are those charges made?

Ladan Law: Grand theft auto is generally, unless it’s a career criminal, where we see young folks committing those offenses. It depends, really, on the personnel in the courtroom. Some judges, that is absolutely their pet peeve and it’s likely that you’re going to serve some jail time.

For others, it’s less so and it’s very likely that they’ll give you a chance to rehabilitate and make your life fairly miserable under probation with many sanctions, but they are always better than jail. But, I can assure you that if you’re a repeat offender, and you’re caught in a stolen vehicle, you’re going to be dealt with fairly severely by any judges here in central Florida.

Auto Theft

Interviewer: So, if you steal a car, what level is it considered? Does it matter the kind of car?

Ladan Law: It does and it would be considered a third-degree felony and it would be of a level, initially, that didn’t require prison. However, every felony charge can be punished by a minimum of up to five years in prison and then, obviously, that goes up with the degree.

A third-degree felony can be anywhere from zero days in jail to up to five years in jail. It depends on many factors as to where on that spectrum someone’s penalty will fall. The first- time offender, for grand theft, probably has a reasonable chance of serving a probationary sentence and making full restitution to the victim.

Interviewer: Actually that’s something we didn’t finish on. We talked about one offense for stealing things under $100.00, then $200.00, then $300.00 and then you jumped to what, $5,000? What are the next levels above that? Where does it go up to?

Ladan Law: The next level is generally between $5,000 and $10,000 and you’re going to start looking towards an increased sanction.

Is There a Separate Statute for Larceny?

Interviewer: Hey, how about larceny? What is that?

Ladan Law: Larceny is basically just theft. I don’t believe there’s a separate statute for larceny. Basically, it is just a theft charge.

Interviewer: Are there any other kinds of charges that I haven’t asked you about that are important to talk about?

Burglary and the Anti-Murder Act

Ladan Law: I would say that the burglary of a dwelling, burglary of a conveyance or car come into play under the theft statutes. Burglaries are very interesting. Burglary of a dwelling is one of the offenses that are contained in the Anti-Murder Act. It doesn’t make any sense why it’s called the Anti-Murder Act and it comprises crimes like burglaries, but it does.

If you are placed on probation for burglary of a dwelling, and violated your probation, the state of Florida must hold you in jail until the day of your hearing. This would apply even the teen or pre-teen that walked in to somebody’s garage and took a bike. They might have been given a youthful offenders sentence of probation but if they then have a positive urine test and have marijuana in their system, they must be held in jail until the day of their violation of probation hearing. It’s also likely that they’re going to be sentenced to prison time. Burglary of a dwelling is a very dangerous offense in Florida, on many grounds.

The Stand Your Ground Law in Florida

The second reason it’s dangerous is due to Florida’s very liberal gun law and the Stand Your Ground law. Burglary of a dwelling is presumed to be a crime of violence and that causes a legitimate fear in somebody.

If you are in somebody’s house, even though you’re not armed, you’re not aggressive, the homeowner, under the current statute, can be immune from prosecution if they shoot and kill you because you are presumed to be committing a violent act even if you’re standing there with your arms in the air. It is an extremely dangerous crime to commit and the sentence includes prison time, even as a first-time offender.

Burglary of a dwelling is dealt with very severely by the court system because, understand, it is perfectly legitimate for a homeowner to shoot and kill you if you are committing a burglary in their residence or their conveyance, meaning their vehicle.

Burglary Charges Have Severe Penalties

Conceivably, it would be legal to shoot somebody taking a radio out of a car, if you happen to be sleeping in the back seat and you are armed. It’s a very dangerous offense and the penalties are very severe. If you’re lucky enough to be given a break and receive probation, if you violate that probation, the penalties are equally severe.

Burglary Convictions Stay on Your Criminal Record

Finally, this offense will never be removed from your criminal history. That is a very dangerous offense and it needs to be handled in a specific way by your criminal defense attorney. It’s important because later on in life, you will need the opportunity to not have an issue with violation of probation or future employment. For many people this truly is a first-time mistake and if it’s handled correctly in court, and you may not lose the ability to be employed or apply to a college in the future.

Author: Amir Ladan
A former assistant state attorney for Orange/Osceola Counties, Amir has handled thousands of cases and dozens of trials, ranging from DUI and traffic offenses to murder, in both adult and juvenile court.

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