Florida has a reputation for stiff theft punishments. According to state law, theft becomes a felony when the value of the stolen items exceeds $300. The only state with a lower felony threshold ($200) is New Jersey; the average for most states is $1,000.

Learn more about these charges, which result in costly fines and even prison time for a first offense.

Felony grand theft in the third degree

This conviction constitutes theft of an item or items worth between $300 and $20,000, including but not limited to wills, vehicles, weapons, farm animals, controlled substances and fire extinguishers. Grand theft in the third degree carries up to five years of probation or in prison and a fine of $5,000.

Felony grand theft in the second degree

For theft of property worth between $20,000 and $100,000, and/or theft of interstate cargo, medical equipment or law enforcement equipment, the offender will receive second-degree felony charges. Convictions result in 15 years of probation or in prison and a fine of $10,000.

Felony grand theft in the first degree

Stealing assets exceeding $100,000 in value is punishable by a fine of $10,000 and as many as 30 years in prison. The court also levies this charge for theft of interstate cargo valued at more than $50,000 or a law enforcement vehicle. If you damage another person’s property at a cost of more than $1,000 while committing grand theft, you could also receive a first-degree felony charge.

When Florida charges a person with felony grand theft, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the value of the stolen property exceeds the $300 threshold, that the offender knowingly took another person’s property and that he or she intended to deprive the person of benefiting from the property. Legal defenses include a lack of intent to commit theft, the presence of necessity or duress and the belief of consent from the owner to take the property.