Florida criminal law now classifies theft charges based on the age of the alleged victim. If you are accused of theft from an individual who is at or over the age of 65, you could be eligible for enhanced charges.
Theft of $1,000 or more
According to the statute, anyone who is convicted of theft from a person who is at least 65 years old must pay restitution to the victim and do community service. A judge may order the accused person to perform up to 500 hours of community service work in addition to other fines and sentencing.
Theft could be a felony if you are aware of the victim’s age
If an accused person is aware that the alleged victim’s age was 65 or more, they could face greater penalties for theft. In these cases, an accused person could be charged for a felony offense if they took assets or property valued at $300 or more.
• At least $300 is a third-degree felony
• At least $10,000 is a second-degree felony
• At least $50,000 is a first-degree felony
The new statute says that a person is eligible for these enhanced charges if they either know or have reason to believe that the victim is at least 65. A criminal defense strategy for someone who is facing these enhanced charges could be that they were unaware of the victim’s age.
Defense against theft charges
If you are facing theft charges, you have several options depending on the details of your case. You may choose to plead innocent if the evidence against you is weak. You may also work out a plea deal for lesser charges or a reduced sentence in exchange for more community service hours.