What’s the Difference Between Theft and Burglary in Florida?

What’s the Difference Between Theft and Burglary in Florida?
Mike G Law theft and burglary

Sometimes with the law, it can seem like there are a bunch of different names for the same thing. Murder and homicide, for example, seem to be similar concepts. The same goes for burglary, theft, robbery, and larceny. But what’s the difference between burglary and theft? And are robbery and larceny the same thing?

If an individual enters a vehicle and grabs a purse, have they committed theft or burglary? What if said individual enters a gas station and demands the contents of a cash register?  

Within the Florida statutes, there are distinct measures for separating these acts into their different categories. In this blog posts, we’ll be covering the difference between burglary and theft so you can better understand any charges against you or a loved one.

What is Theft?

Defined in Florida statute 812.014, theft is simply the taking of someone else’s property:  

A person commits theft if he or she knowingly obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or to use, the property of another with intent to, either temporarily or permanently:

(a) Deprive the other person of a right to the property or a benefit from the property.

(b) Appropriate the property to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to the use of the property.

Within this statute, there is also a distinction between grand theft and petit theft.

Grand theft occurs when an individual takes possession of property valued at $300 or more that isn’t theirs. Within this category, there are several distinctions that separate charges by severity (first degree, second degree, third degree), though grand theft is always a felony. These distinctions are often made depending on the value of the property taken, however, other factors such as a state of emergency in the county or the theft of medical equipment can increase the seriousness of charges.

Petit theft occurs when an individual takes possession of property that is valued at between $100 and $300 and which is not included in the list of property outlined for grand theft (such as a handgun). Petit theft is a misdemeanor.

Currently, the state legislature is considering changing the threshold between a misdemeanor theft charge and a felony theft charge. Florida has one of the lowest thresholds for considering theft a felony, and too many people are filling cells for the theft of minor items. Thankfully, this is a bipartisan issue and has much support. 

What is Burglary?

Like theft, burglary is a property crime. What sets it apart from theft, however, is the act of trespassing onto a property where they are not permitted. Because of this, burglary is a more severe crime. This is reflected in the punishment for burglary. Burglary is always a felony, whereas theft can be either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the situation and the amount taken.

Burglary is defined in Florida statute 810.02 as:

    • Entering a dwelling, a structure, or a conveyance with the intent to commit an offense therein, unless the premises are at the time open to the public or the defendant is licensed or invited to enter; or
    • Notwithstanding a licensed or invited entry, remaining in a dwelling, structure, or conveyance:

a. Surreptitiously, with the intent to commit an offense therein;

b. After permission to remain therein has been withdrawn, with the intent to commit an offense therein; or

c. To commit or attempt to commit a forcible felony, as defined in s. 776.08.

The severity of burglary charges are determined by the presence of a weapon, whether victims or witnesses were present, and the type of dwelling, structure or conveyance or vehicle burgled. If the burglary occurs during a state of emergency, punishment may also be more severe.

What is Robbery?

Robbery and burglary may sound interchangeable, however, they are distinct charges. Robbery is a property crime, like burglary and theft, but the use of force or the threat of force puts it in its own category.

Florida statute 812.13 defines robbery as follows:

“Robbery” means the taking of money or other property which may be the subject of larceny from the person or custody of another, with intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive the person or the owner of the money or other property, when in the course of the taking there is the use of force, violence, assault, or putting in fear.

A robbery can be a first degree or second-degree felony, depending on the presence of a deadly weapon such as a firearm. The main difference between a burglary and a robbery is the use of force against those present. Because of this, prison terms for those convicted are often longer.

What about Larceny?

In Florida, larceny refers to theft. Therefore, you can have grand larceny and petit larceny. There is no specific statute outline larceny as a separate charge, however, it is mentioned in some statutes instead of theft. In other states, larceny may be used instead of theft. 

What to Do if Charged with Theft, Burglary, or Robbery

Because of the severe punishments, one faces if convicted of theft, burglary, or robbery charges, it’s crucial to seek a quality Tampa defense attorney as soon as possible. Not only can these charges be confusing to understand, but defending oneself against a formidable law enforcement system is difficult if not impossible. Secure a skilled defense lawyer for the legal advice you need to make informed choices about your defense. 

At Mike G Law, we aim to provide all our clients with the best defense possible. As a former prosecutor, Mike G understands the effects a criminal charge can have on his clients’ futures and strives to protect his clients’ rights. Mike G will ensure that the police are following the proper procedures and question the prosecutor at every turn to ensure that the law is being upheld and that his clients’ rights are not being trampled. As a skilled negotiator, Mike G can help advocate for lesser charges when appropriate and bargain with the prosecutor as necessary.

If you or a loved one have been arrested and charged with a crime, or fear you may be, contact Mike G law today and refrain from providing information to the police. 

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