Florida Criminal Law: How Is Theft Defined by the Florida Statutes?

Defining theft in Florida is a matter for the state legislature. Investigating the crime and gathering evidence to show a theft was committed is the job of the Sheriff's office (i.e. Jacksonville Sheriff's Office). Enforcing the law, or prosecuting the alleged criminal offender with theft is the job of the State Attorney's office in your area, which are broken down into circuits, a group of counties equals one circuit, (i.e. Duval, Nassau and Clay Counties are in the 4th Judicial Circuit). Theft occurs, according to Florida Statute 812.014(1), when a person, "…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." Theft is a crime that requires knowledge on the part of the person committing the theft. Meaning that to be guilty of theft, you had to have knowledge that the property was in fact the property of another (i.e. stealing from a store) and that you intended to keep the property for any length of time. For example, taking your neighbor's lawnmower without asking and returning it later is still theft. The idea of theft is that your action has taken the known owner's right to use the property or the owner's right to sell the property during the time that you took as if it were your own. If you steal a candy bar from a store, then you know that candy bar belongs to the store and you have deprived the store the chance to sell it an actual paying customer.

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