Teen crime is on the rise in South Florida according to NBC 2 News. Police say that during winter break there is generally a minor increase in teen crime because students are out of school. Typical crimes include petit and grand theft, auto theft, and other felonies and misdemeanors that can haunt a young person for the rest of their lives. Recent teen-caused crimes around Cape Coral include a case of double auto theft in which the defendants allegedly stole two vehicles, lit one on fire, and crashed the other before running from law enforcement. Residents of Cape Coral who do not lock their car doors are in for a surprise, as the typical method of car theft by teens and minors, as well as for adults, is to check door handle after door handle until an unlocked vehicle is found.
Theft Charges for Objects of Various Value and Type
Teens recently stole a 9-millimeter handgun from a parked truck, while others dined and ditched from a $22 tab; the former is a felony while the later is a misdemeanor. Any theft of a firearm or motor vehicle constitutes a third degree felony at the minimum, even if the car or gun stolen was worth less than $300, which is the normal cut off between grand theft and petit theft, according to statute 812.014. Theft of vehicles or firearms worth more than $20,000 is a second degree felony, while theft of property worth more than $100,000 is a first degree felony. The following are also first degree theft charges:
- Theft of a law enforcement semi trailer;
- Intrastate commerce cargo worth $50,000 or more;
- During any theft, when a motor vehicle is used to assist in committing the offense, aside from a getaway vehicle, and any damage is caused to another’s property; and
- During any theft, the offender causes property damage of $1,000 or more.
As such, if a teen opened an unlocked car door, drove the vehicle away, and in the process crashed the vehicle causing moderate damage to the bumper and windshield, the teen could be charged with a first degree felony for causing $1,000 of damage while committing theft. The car may have only been worth $1,000, yet prosecutors will seek the harshest available punishment for the offense, which is a first degree felony. A third degree felony is punished by up to five years in prison, a second degree felony is punished with up to 15 years in prison, and a first degree felony is punished by up to 30 years behind bars.
Reach Out to an Experienced West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer
Many teens commit these types of theft crimes out of boredom, not out of necessity or meanness. However, a teen locked up in an adult penitentiary for any length of time will undoubtedly come out a changed person, and will have trouble finding work with a felony record. Let a West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer help your child avoid unnecessary punishment. Call an attorney with the Skier Law Firm today for swift legal action.