Grand Theft Auto Lawyer Clay County

Grand theft auto is when a person takes another's car that has been valued at $300 or more. This theft is considered a felony in the State of Florida, punishable with penalties and imprisonment. There are factors considered with the crime that will decide one's outcome of a grand theft auto, including how much the vehicle is valued at, the intent of the defendant, and any other related factors involving the theft.

If you’ve been involved with a grand theft auto, you are facing serious legal issues. You will want a strong legal defense working to protect yourself from these charges. Arnold Law understands the laws of Florida and the court system and will work hard to reduce your charges or have them dismissed.

Grand Theft Auto in Florida

Grand theft auto in the State of Florida is a third-degree felony, as stated under Florida Statute 812.014(2). The state will upgrade this charge to a second or first-degree offense in some cases. An example of this would be if a vehicle valued at more than $20,000 but not more than $100,000, the theft would be charged as a second-degree felony. Should the theft occur after the Governor has declared a 'state of emergency,' it would also be charged as a second-degree felony.

Grand theft auto in the State of Florida will be charged as a first-degree offense if:

  • The vehicle is a semitrailer deployed by law enforcement
  • The defendant used the stolen vehicle as an instrument to commit a crime and damages the property of another
  • The vehicle is valued at $100,000 or more

What the State Must Prove at Trial for Grand Theft Auto

When you are arrested for grand  theft auto in Florida, and your case goes to court, there are elements the prosecution must prove in order to find you guilty:

  • You unlawfully and knowingly used, obtained or aspired to use the property belonging to someone else
  • You performed the act with the intent to permanently or temporarily deprive the victim of his or her property or their ability to benefit from the property
  • The value of the property taken was more than $300
    • If the property is valued at less than $300, it is considered 'petty theft,' and these cases are often disposed of in a pretrial diversion. If you are arrested for stealing an item valued at less than $300, it is your option to request a non-criminal process. Talk with your attorney at Arnold Law if you are facing charges with a low-value to discuss the pretrial diversion.

A crime is considered 'grand theft' when there is a specific intent to deprive the owner of the property of his or her rights to its use. For the prosecution to sustain a conviction, there has to be substantial and competent evidence that the jury can find reasonably infers a felonious intent.

Penalties for Grand Theft Auto in Florida

The penalties imposed if one is found guilty of grand theft auto in Florida depends on the value of the vehicle they have stolen:

  • If the stolen vehicle has a value of $20,000 or less, the penalty would be up to five years in prison with a $5,000 fine
  • If the stolen vehicle has a value of $20,000 or more but is less than $100,000, the penalty would be up to fifteen years in prison with a $10,000 fine
  • If the stolen vehicle has a value of more than $100,000, was being used by law enforcement, was a used as a getaway vehicle that caused further damage, the penalty can be up to thirty years in prison with a $10,000 fine

Defending Grand Theft Auto

The defense team at Arnold Law is ready to challenge the evidence and argue your case to either have your charges reduced or perhaps dismissed. Several defense strategies can be used, including:

  • Lack of intent
    • One of the points the state has to prove when charging you with grand theft auto is your intent to steal the property. Your defense attorney can claim there was a ‘lack of intent’ in your actions. It can be shown you took the vehicle but had meant to return it. Proving this ‘lack of intent’ could lower the charges you are facing making them less severe. 
  • You may have thought you had permission to take the vehicle. There could have been misinterpretation between you and the owner of the vehicle, and you have thought they were allowing you to ‘borrow’ the car.
  • The vehicle was stolen before someone sold it to you, and you were unaware of its status.
  • You were under the assumption you had the right to take the vehicle.
  • You took the vehicle out of duress or necessity as long as there was not a ‘state of emergency’ declared at the time.

Another line of defense with a grand theft auto charge is the value of the vehicle. When your future is at stake, Arnold Law will use every available defense to protect you from these charges.

Finding Value of Stolen Vehicle in Grand Theft Auto

The general formula used to assess value in grand theft cases is found through 'market value.'  The value is determined according to the 'market value' of the property at the time of the offense as well as where the offense took place. If the actual 'value' cannot be obtained, then the cost to replace said property within a reasonable time would be used.

In the State of Florida, testimony as to what the stolen vehicle cost at the time of original purchase is insufficient by itself. Although the original price can be used as a factor to establish value at the time of the theft, it must also include the item’s condition, quality when purchased, and the percentage of depreciation that has occurred since the purchase.

If the exact market value of the vehicle cannot be established, it can be established with evidence of what it would cost to replace the stolen vehicle. The replacement would have to prove to be similar in value to the stolen vehicle at the time it was taken.

Speculative and retail value estimates are also insufficient for establishing the value of stolen property in a grand theft prosecution. Evidence of value must be given by a witness who is competent to testify as to value.

Auto Theft in Florida

Auto theft in the State of Florida is when one intentionally takes another's motor vehicle, whether it is for temporary use or permanently, and it is charged as a felony.

  • Motor Vehicle

The law defines a motor vehicle as any self-propelled vehicle that does not need a rail. These vehicles include semitrailer, truck tractors, motorcycles, trucks, automobiles, or any other vehicle which is allowed to operate on the roads and is propelled by any form of power other than muscle power. It does not include vehicles such as bicycles or mopeds that travel on rail or trails.

If a person intentionally fails to return a rental vehicle after the end of their rental agreement, and without prior consent from the rental company, it is considered a felony in Florida. This illegal retention of a rental vehicle is auto theft.

It is also considered auto theft in Florida if a person receives custody of another's vehicle through trickery, deceit, or fraud. An example of this would be telling the owner of a car you were given permission to use or take the car from their spouse when no such consent was given. Falsely claiming you've been given permission in an attempt to trick the owner into giving the keys and car to you would be considered auto theft and charged as a felony.

Carjacking is another form of auto theft. Taking another's car through the use of force by using a deadly weapon, threat, violence, or any other force is a more severe charge and could result in a life sentence in prison.

Grand Theft in Florida

Grand theft in Florida is most often associated with automobiles, but it doesn’t just apply to cars. Grand theft can also be charged for other crimes involving large amounts of money, or the theft of items with a high value. A person can be charged with grand theft under Florida’s criminal laws if:

  • Illegally or knowingly used or obtained property, and this would be any property, not just a vehicle, belonging to another person
  • You intentionally removed property belonging to another either for temporary use or to permanently deprive another of said property.
  • The property you took from another has a value of more than $300

The penalties for grand theft conviction depend on the degree of the felony charge the prosecution is charging:

  • Third-Degree Felony

If convicted of a third-degree felony for grand theft, then the property taken has a value between $300 and $20,000. There are special rules which apply to certain types of property, such as a vehicle, farm animal, firearm, or a traffic sign.

- Stealing a street sign to use as decoration, or to sell as scrap metal is costly and inconvenient to municipalities. Street signs in the United States cost between $100 and $500 to replace and, when removed, can be a danger to the public. In most jurisdictions, the theft of a traffic sign is treated as any other form of theft, but if the theft leads to injury, the consequences will be much more severe.

- Florida laws make it clear that the theft of a firearm is a felony. The value of the weapon is not an element in the charges. Grand theft of a firearm is rarely a charge in itself; it generally accompanies a burglary or other offense. When a grand theft of a firearm alone is charged, it involves the defendant being invited into an area where the firearm is kept, and they unlawfully take the firearm.

- Theft of livestock or beehives in the State of Florida is a third-degree felony. When these animals are commercially farmed, and the beehives are used for commercial pollination, it is punishable up to five years in prison with a possible $5,000 fine if convicted of the theft. If the species is at a certified aquaculture facility when it is stolen, the crime is more severe and carries a mandatory $10,000 fine.

  • Second-Degree Felony

If convicted of stealing or unlawfully taking another's property, which is valued between $20,000 and $100,000, it is a second-degree felony. This conviction would carry up to fifteen years in prison, or fifteen years of probation along with a $10,000 fine.

  • Third-Degree Felony

If the property taken unlawfully is valued at $1000,000 or more, you would be charged with a third-degree felony if convicted. A felony conviction of third-degree carries a thirty-year prison sentence with $10,000 in fines.

The difference between grand theft and grand theft auto is that one pertains only to vehicles that have been taken intentionally and unlawfully from the rightful owner. Grand theft can involve any piece of property other than a vehicle that has been taken deliberately and illegally.

Unlawfully Taking Another’s Property in Florida

There are many terms used when one intentionally and unlawfully takes another’s property. Some of the legal terms used when these crimes are committed include:

  • Grand Theft Auto
  • Grand Theft
  • Burglary
  • Robbery
  • Larceny
  • Theft

Grand theft auto and grand theft have been discussed, but there are other forms of stealing that can affect a person's criminal history and future. Having legal counsel from Arnold Law will help you protect that history and your future when arrested for one of these crimes.

At times when you are dealing with the law, it appears as though there are several names for the same crime. One would think that theft, robbery, and burglary all represent the same crime. The truth is that under Florida law, there are distinct measures for these acts, which are separated into different categories.

  • Theft

Theft is defined under Florida statute 812.014 and means you have taken someone else’s property. Being charged with theft means you have knowingly taken or used the property of others with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive that person of their right to benefit from said property. It can also mean you have appropriated the property for your own use without the entitlement to said property.

There is a definite difference between grand theft and petit theft. Petit theft is charged when an individual takes possession of property valued between $100 and $300, which is not outlined under the property listed under the grand theft categories, such as a handgun. Petit theft is charged as a misdemeanor.

  • Burglary

Burglary, much like theft, is a property crime in Florida. It is separated from theft, as the charge of burglary includes the act of trespassing onto another’s property when you have not been given permission to enter. Burglary is also charged as a more serious crime.

Burglary is charged as a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the facts related to the case. Burglary is defined under Florida statute 810.02 and involves entering a structure or dwelling with an intent to commit an offense. The entry is illegal unless the premises were open to the public or the defendant at the time they entered.

If one has illegally entered a structure without permission to commit an offense, it is an illegal or criminal act. This charge of burglary includes the entry after permission to remain on a property has been withdrawn, and you intend to commit a forcible felony. The severity of the charges for burglary will depend on whether or not there was a firearm involved, whether or not there were victims present, and the type of dwelling that was entered. If a burglary was committed during a 'state of emergency,' the punishment will be more severe.

  • Robbery

Burglary and robbery are often confused crimes, and many think they are interchangeable. The truth is that these are very different crimes under Florida law. Robbery is considered a property crime just as theft and burglary; however, robbery involves a threat or use of force when the property of another's is taken.

Florida statute 812.13 defines robbery and is the taking of another's property with the intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive them of being able to benefit from the property. When this property is taken, you have used force in the form of threats, assault, or any form of violence that causes fear in the owner of the property.

The difference between a burglary and robbery is the use of force against the property owner or anyone present during the act. Robbery can be either a first or second-degree felony, depending on whether or not you used a deadly weapon during the robbery. Punishment for this crime may be more severe than those of a burglary.

  • Larceny

If you are charged with larceny in Florida, it is the same as theft. It is possible to have grand larceny and petit larceny, but there is no specific statute to outline larceny as a separate charge. It is mentioned in some of the state statutes instead of theft, and in some, larceny is used instead of the term theft.

Being charged with any of these crimes can impose severe punishments. You will want a reliable criminal defense attorney guiding you through this legal process to ensure your rights are protected. Because reliable legal counsel is so important, you need to contact Arnold Law as soon as possible.

These charges are not only confusing, but trying to defend yourself against a formidable legal system is complicated and, in some cases, impossible. A criminal defense attorney from Arnold Law will ensure the police have followed the proper procedures, and they will stay on top of the prosecution's evidence to make the best defense strategy possible for you.

Difference Between Misdemeanor and Felony Charges in Florida

There is an expression often used to advise 'would-be' lawbreakers not to break the law unless they are prepared to suffer the consequences. This expression is, 'don't do the crime if you don't want to do time.' This saying means if you are caught committing a crime and convicted in the courts, you could be facing serious prison time. The saying is to deter those thinking about doing something illegal to think hard and long before following through with the crime, as there may be consequences of long prison times.

Criminal offenses in Florida are classified into two categories: felonies and misdemeanors. Misdemeanors are illegal acts that are generally deemed less serious than a felony and have less serious penalties. These charges are typically classified into one of two categories: first degree and second degree — some misdemeanor charges in Florida result from disorderly conduct, suspended license violations, and some trespassing charges.

One big difference between the felony and misdemeanor charges are the amount of time you will spend in jail or prison. A misdemeanor typically carries a maximum jail time of one year, while a felony conviction carries a minimum of one year or more in prison.

Common felonies in Florida include carjacking, battery, assault, incest, homicide, robbery, sexual battery, kidnapping, stalking, grand theft, and grand theft auto. Punishment for a felony conviction ranges from one year in prison to death, depending on the degree of the felony charge. There are five categories of felonies created by the Florida legislature: third degree, second degree, first degree, a life felony, capital, and also a category for certain drug crimes.

Find Help For a Grand Theft Auto Charge Near Me

Arnold Law has generations of experience with the Florida legal system and its laws. If you have been charged with grand theft auto, you need us by your side to fight these charges and protect your rights. Call us as soon as possible at 904-264-3627, so we can begin building your defense. Our years of experience from handling the various cases and trials will mean the difference between a positive and negative outcome with your charges. Call us today and discuss the options you have when building a defense against grand theft auto.



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We represent Clay, St. Johns, Duval and Putnam County residents

Our office is located across the street from the Clay County Courthouse in Green Cove Springs at the same intersection as the CVS Pharmacy. Although we are located in Clay County, we assist all Florida residents and counsel anyone who needs help with issues related to Florida law. To schedule an office or phone consultation please call or stop by our office location. We look forward to your call: 904-264-3627 or 904-284-5618.