New Law Increases Felony Theft Threshold to $750
Should stealing a cell phone brand you a felon for the rest of your life? That is the question Florida’s legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis were effectively answering when they passed a new law raising Florida’s felony theft threshold — the amount that determines whether theft is a felony or a misdemeanor — for the first time in decades.
Since 1986, anyone in Florida who stole something worth more than $300 could be charged with a felony. This was the second-lowest felony threshold in the nation (only New Jersey’s threshold is lower), and it became a problem as expensive cell phones became ubiquitous. Suddenly, the courts were clogged with cases where someone jacked an iPhone and ruined the rest of his or her life. Remember, a felony conviction leads to more than just prison time. Being branded a felon can make it difficult to find housing or a job, and bars many pathways to success.
It was clear to those of us working the criminal defense world that the punishment for what was defined as felony theft no longer fit the crime. This put trust in the entire criminal justice system at risk. The government simply cannot expect citizens to follow the law when the average person thinks the law is unfair or unjust. Our state’s low felony theft threshold was so low even victims found it shocking. How much more evidence could you need to realize a change was needed?
Our lawmakers took note and passed HB 7125 in response. Among other things, the new law raises the threshold for felony theft from $300 to $750 starting on October 1, 2019. This brings Florida more in line with other states. However, we still lag behind many of our neighbors. Texas’s felony theft threshold is $2,500, Georgia’s is $1,500, and South Carolina’s is $2,000.
Contact Our Florida Criminal Defense Attorney
At Valiente, Carollo and McElligott PLLC, we will continue to advocate for reduced charges and more lenient sentences when one of our clients has been charged with a theft crime. Prosecutors and judges have the authority to be lenient in these cases, and we believe they should act accordingly.
We aggressively attack the evidence in these cases, and frequently get the charges dropped. If a case proceeds, we gather evidence that paints a full picture of the circumstances surrounding the alleged incident.
If you are facing theft crime charges, and you need someone to stand in your corner, and fight for your rights, please give us a call.
Posted in: Theft Crimes