FL House Supports Bill that Would Increase Felony Theft Threshold

florida house vote effects felonsFlorida state statutes define the criteria for theft and misdemeanor theft. The threshold for misdemeanor theft is stealing any item with a value of $1 to $300. The threshold for felony theft (otherwise known as grand theft) is stealing goods worth $300 or more. For example, If a defendant takes an item of $300 or greater value, that would constitute felony theft. In recent years, these thresholds have remained unchanged—until now.

The Florida Legislature is moving forward on a bill that, if signed into law, could make those aforementioned thresholds completely irrelevant. The new bill will change the threshold for felony theft from $300 to $1,000. Whether it’s a felony or misdemeanor, despite the possible changes to the state’s theft thresholds, having a Florida criminal defense attorney is still important if you’re accused of felony theft and are facing a felony theft conviction.

Exploring the Proposed Felony Theft Threshold Bill

Lawmakers and citizens alike appear surprised by the recent news that the House was considering passing this bill. For years, the Florida state House of Representatives resisted any proposals to reform the state’s criminal justice system.

However, citing bloated prisons, understaffed detention facilities, and rising costs to the taxpayers, a growing number of criminal justice reformers argue that leaving the threshold as is only exacerbates the existing issues in Florida’s criminal justice system. Florida has the second-lowest threshold for felony theft in the country.

Bill JDC 19-02 would dramatically change the Florida state statutes by enacting the following changes:

  • Change the felony threshold from $300 to $1,000, in addition to adopting more reintegration programs that would allow offenders to opt for rehabilitative measures rather than doing prison time.
  • Institute job search programs that would help newly released prisoners find employment once they’re released. Similarly, the programs would also make it easier for prisoners to seal or expunge their records if they were not convicted of serious crimes.
  • Adjust probationary procedures so only the most serious violent offenders would face strict supervision.
  • Reducing suspension of non-violent drug offenders’ driving license privileges from 1 year to six months. Similar provisions would be enacted for several other non-violent, non-drug related crimes.
  • Mandatory minimum sentencing would be eliminated on obscure crimes, like selling horse meat. Violent juveniles would also no longer face compulsory charges as adults.

Law enforcement and prosecutors have previously resisted these changes, but appear willing to compromise since the bill includes several measures that are considered “pro-law enforcement” in nature. That includes the ability for law enforcement to secure a warrant once they get a DNA match, in addition to increased penalties for those who bring contraband into jails or prisons.

The bill looks poised to pass the House unopposed, although it’s not clear if it has the full support of the Florida Senate and governor. Regardless of what happens with the bill, it’s important to understand that whether you’ve been accused of felony or misdemeanor theft, having the best criminal defense possible is still a necessity.

Hire an Experienced Florida Theft Defense Attorney

A good lawyer can make or break your case for freedom if you’re facing a theft conviction. Whether it’s felony or petit theft, the Umansky Law Firm has extensive experience defending our clients arrested on charges of theft. Led by the husband-wife duo of William D. and Zahra L. Umansky, our firm has more than 100 combined years of experience in many areas of criminal defense.

Let us fight on your behalf. Call the Umansky Law Firm 24/7 at (407) 890-0336 or complete our online contact form for a free consultation.