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Theft, Burglary and Robbery Charges in Florida

Theft, Burglary and Robbery Charges in Florida

Dealing with a theft, burglary or robbery charge in Florida can be scary. These crimes cover everything from shoplifting to home invasions, carrying potentially serious penalties like jail time. Let’s break down what each charge means and what the consequences may be.

Defining Theft, Burglary and Robbery

Theft, burglary and robbery may sound similar but in the eyes of Florida law, they are distinct crimes with different elements that prosecutors must prove.


Florida defines theft as taking or using someone else’s property with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive them of it. Shoplifting, employee theft and pickpocketing are common examples. The value of the stolen property determines whether it is petty theft (under $750) or grand theft (over $750).


Burglary requires illegally entering or remaining in a dwelling, structure or conveyance with the intent to commit an offense inside. So burglary includes breaking into homes, stores, cars and more to steal or do harm. Again, charges vary based on factors like whether the structure was occupied.


Robbery takes theft a major step further by involving force, violence, assault or putting the victim in fear. The classic “stick em’ up” bank robberies fall under this category in Florida criminal law.

Penalties and Sentences

The penalties for theft, burglary or robbery depend heavily on the degree of the charge and the person’s criminal history. At minimum, these acts may lead to probation or community service. At maximum, offenders can face decades behind bars.

Petty theft under $100 is only a misdemeanor in Florida, with up to one year in jail as punishment. Most other theft cases end up as felonies. Grand theft, burglary and robbery sentences often involve state prison time.

For example, armed burglary is a first degree felony with up to life imprisonment. Strong arm robbery with no weapon carries up to 15 years behind bars. Even “basic” grand theft can mean five years in prison.

Common Defenses

Fighting back against theft, burglary and robbery charges starts with understanding common defenses that apply. Here are some of the most effective strategies:

Mistaken Identity

Eyewitnesses make mistakes all the time. So misidentification could show someone else committed the crime. Alibis and other evidence can establish the defendant was elsewhere.


Duress means carrying out an illegal act due to threats of serious harm. So a defendant could admit to the act but claim they faced danger if they did not comply.


In theft and burglary cases, the defendant may argue the “victim” consented to them borrowing or entering the property. Shared access agreements between roommates, for example, can undermine charges.


When violence enters the picture, self-defense becomes possible. The accused may say they only used physical force because they reasonably feared for their life and safety. Stand Your Ground laws in Florida strengthen such arguments.

Theft Crime Diversion Programs

First time offenders may have a chance at avoiding formal conviction through pretrial diversion programs. These intervention options require completing probation, restitution payments or rehabilitation classes. Afterwards, the charges get dropped.

Theft diversion is common for juvenile offenders in Florida. But some prosecutor offices extend the opportunity to qualifying adults as well. These programs aim to avoid saddling people with records that hurt job and housing prospects down the road.

Getting an Experienced Lawyer

Don’t go through theft, burglary or robbery accusations alone in Florida. An experienced criminal defense attorney can evaluate the evidence, identify defenses that apply and craft an effective legal strategy. They also advocate for diversion program eligibility or negotiated pleas that minimize penalties.

With the right legal help, many people avoid jail and instead receive probation, community service or pretrial programs. So reach out to a lawyer providing strong representation for accused thieves, burglars and robbers across Florida. The sooner you start fighting the charges, the better.



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