What Is a Florida Property Crime? From Arson to Trespassing
- On behalf of Mike G Law posted in Criminal Defense on Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Theft, vandalism, trespassing, fraud, arson—these are all property crimes. While the crimes themselves differ, they each involve the taking of or destruction of someone else’s property without their permission. Because there are numerous crimes that fall under this category, and because the magnitude of the crimes themselves can vary, a Florida property crime may be a misdemeanor or a felony.
Types of Property Crimes in Florida
The following Florida property crimes are listed in alphabetical order.
Arson is a felony in Florida and involves the deliberate setting of property on fire. The severity of the charges will depend on the amount of damage caused and whether the fire posed a threat or injured any individuals. Generally, fires that are set accidently are not considered arson unless the fire was a result of negligence and could’ve been avoided.
Criminal Mischief (Vandalism)
The willful and malicious damage or destruction of property, criminal mischief (more commonly known as vandalism) charges cover graffiti and other “injuries” to property, whether personal or public. The severity of criminal mischief charges depends on the amount of damage caused and whether an individual has previous criminal mischief convictions.
Often, people conflate burglary and theft. However, the two are distinct crimes, though they can be committed in conjunction. Burglary is what’s colloquially called “breaking and entering.” It is the unlawful entry into a building or vehicle with the intent to commit a crime. The crime that the individual is “intending” to commit may be a property crime like arson or theft or a violent crime like assault or rape.
Statute 810.02 lays out the different ways individuals may be charged with burglary and the varying severity of the charges based on the amount burglarized and whether other individuals were present during the alleged burglary.
Dealing in Stolen Goods
It is against the law for individuals to sell (or try to sell) goods (or to dispose of goods) they know to be stolen or that they should know to be stolen. This charge can apply to individuals fencing stolen property, like pawn shop owners, as well as those individuals who have stolen property and have sold or attempted to sell it.
Theft is defined as the unlawful taking of another person’s property. In Florida, theft charges are divided into two categories: Petit Theft and Grand Theft.
Petit theft is the unlawful taking of property that is worth less than $300. Grand theft is the unlawful taking of property that is worth more than $300 and includes auto theft.
Shoplifting (or retail theft), employee theft, embezzlement, and writing bad checks can all result in either petit theft or grand theft charges depending on the amount of property that is alleged to have been taken.
Because theft charges only cover the taking of property, they may sometimes be combined with other charges like trespassing or burglary. For example, if an individual breaks into a home with the intent of taking a watch collection from, they would be charged with both burglary and theft (and possibly other crimes if they destroyed property during the commission of the crime).
Trespassing occurs when an individual knowingly enters a property without the permission of the owner or stays on the property after said permission has been revoked. The property in question can be a physical structure such as a home or business, a vehicle, or land.
Property crimes do not involve the use of force. If the threat of force is used or if actual force is used during the commission of a crime, it is considered a violent crime and will likely result in additional charges. For example, if a gun is brandished during the burglary of a home in order to pacify the owner — even if the accused states they never intended to use the gun — they may be charged with
Penalties for a Florida Property Crime
The severity of the charges will be reflected in the punishment meted out by the judge. If you or a loved one is only charged with a property crime, then generally, the charge will relate to the value of the property that was allegedly taken or damaged as well any previous convictions.
The following list is an example of penalties for particular charge types:
- Second-Degree Misdemeanor: A fine of up to $500 and a maximum jail sentence of 60 days
- First-Degree Misdemeanor: A fine of up to $1,000 and a maximum jail sentence of one year
- Third-Degree Felony: A fine of up to $5,000 and a maximum prison sentence of five years
- Second-Degree Felony: A fine of up to $10,000 and a maximum prison sentence of 15 years
- First-Degree Felony: A fine of up to $10,000 and a maximum prison sentence of 30 years
In addition to being charged for carrying out an alleged criminal act, individuals can also be charged for attempting to carry out an alleged crime (attempted theft, attempted burglary, etc.).
Please note, each case is different. The best way to understand the charges against you is to consult with a Tampa criminal defense attorney.
Mitigating Circumstances for Florida Property Crimes
Too often, first-time, non-violent property crimes are a result of mental health or substance abuse issues. Thankfully, there are more programs available to help individuals dealing with these problems. When you hire me as your criminal defense attorney, I will work with the prosecutor on your case to find you or your loved one an appropriate treatment program. If completed successfully, a treatment program may allow you or your loved one to avoid having a conviction on your record.
If you’ve been charged with a property crime, it’s time to get a lawyer. Depending on the severity of the charges, you may face significant jail time, hefty fines, damage to your career or reputation, and more. Don’t put your future at risk. When charged with a serious crime, hire a lawyer who will fight back on your behalf. Contact Mike G Law today for a consultation.