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Updates in Criminal Justice Reform – Understanding the Proposed Bills That Could Raise Florida’s Theft Felony Threshold

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Theft – a crime that may also be called burglary, robbery, larceny, or stealing – is a very real criminal offense in the Sunshine State. For example, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, a larceny was committed every minute and 20 seconds in the Sunshine State in 2017. However, the kind of behavior that can be considered a theft can be very wide ranging and even consist of actions that many people consider minor offenses. Despite this, Florida has one of the harshest felony thresholds for theft in the country.

When Does an Alleged Theft Become a Felony Under Current Florida Law?

Florida’s theft statute currently has an extremely low threshold for determining whether an alleged crime is a misdemeanor or felony. If an individual is accused of stealing property valued at least $300, then that individual is automatically at risk of being charged with a felony.

What Are the Proposed Bills to Raise Florida’s Theft Felony Threshold?

The Tampa Bay Times recently reported the account of an autistic 18-year-old who was arrested and charged with a felony after allegedly taking an iPhone he saw sitting on the counter at a McDonald’s. Fortunately, his mother, who owns a housekeeping business, was able to hire a lawyer who successfully had the teenager’s charges lowered to a misdemeanor.

However, everyone is not so lucky. Florida’s current $300 felony threshold for theft is the second-lowest amount in the nation and hasn’t changed since 1986. Fortunately, change may be on the horizon. The Times also reported that lawmakers from both parties are behind bills this year that would substantially raise Florida’s felony threshold – albeit to differing proposed amounts.

In addition to the differences between the bills, another challenge comes in the form of the Florida Retail Federation, a powerful lobbying group that has donated at least $3 million to various lawmakers and political committee over the past five years. This group has made clear that it does not support such reformation of the felony threshold.

In lieu of these differing factors, it is unpredictable whether these proposed bills will be successful but after 33 years, it is time.

What Are the Implications of Incurring a Felony?

Some of the most obvious potential implications are jail time and fines. In addition, a felony conviction can prevent an individual from being able to live in a certain community or work for a certain employer. There can also be restrictions on constitutional rights such as the right to vote. Additionally, we all know that people judge others in society for their pasts and a felony conviction can result in social complications.

Are You Facing Felony Charges or Anticipate Facing Them in the Near Future?

If you or a loved one has been charged with a felony, it is vital that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible as a felony conviction can have a drastic effect on every aspect of your life. As a former prosecutor with extensive criminal experience on both sides of the legal system, Donald C. Barrett, P.A. is the Tampa criminal attorney you want on your side when facing felony charges. Begin by scheduling a consultation today.

Resources:

tampabay.com/florida-politics/2019/04/02/stealing-a-phone-in-florida-can-be-a-life-changing-felony-publix-walmart-and-disney-want-to-keep-it-that-way/

fdle.state.fl.us/FSAC/Documents/PDF/CRIME-CLOCK-2017.aspx

https://www.tampadefenselaw.com/theft-in-florida-and-the-potential-consequences/

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