In Florida, dealing with theft or fraud charges is a serious matter. Even a theft as simple as shoplifting could result in a misdemeanor charge. If convicted, you face incarceration or fines—not to mention a criminal record. Theft or fraud charges can range from misdemeanors to felonies, depending on the value of the stolen property.

If you’re facing theft charges in Florida, you need knowledgeable legal representation. Attorney Erika Valcarcel is ready to hear your case and get started on your defense in Sarasota. She understands how confusing and upsetting being accused of theft charges can be, especially for anyone who hasn’t been accused of a crime in the past.

Florida Theft and Fraud Offenses

Florida’s criminal statutes cover a wide range of activities that might result in criminal fraud or theft charges. They can be minor, like petty theft, or major, like embezzlement.

Florida criminal defense lawyer Erika Valcarcel is prepared to defend against any type of criminal charge you face in Sarasota or Manatee counties. Common fraud or theft charges include:

Grand Theft

Grand theft is defined as intentionally and illegally stealing property that is worth more than $300. You could be charged with a first-, second-, or third-degree felony.

Petit Theft

Petit theft or petty theft is the unlawful taking of property that is worth less than $300. You can charged with first- or second-degree misdemeanors.

Check Fraud

Check fraud occurs when an individual, in order to obtain a service or goods, writes a check with the knowledge that there is not enough money in their account to cover the purchase. You could be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor or third-degree felony.

Credit Card Fraud

Credit card fraud is committed when forged or stolen cards are used, sold, or purchased. These are either treated as first-degree misdemeanors or third-degree felonies.


Florida considers embezzlement to be a type of property theft that involves an individual, who was given property or funds for temporary usage or safe keeping, who took that property or money for their own personal gain. Charges can range from first-degree misdemeanors up to third-, second-, or first-degree felonies.

False Pretenses

False pretenses, commonly known as obtaining property by false pretenses, is confused with several offenses, but this crime occurs when an individual lies or misrepresents facts in order to obtain a property title. These charges range from misdemeanors to felonies.

Identity Theft

Identity theft is the crime of stealing another person’s identity for the purpose of obtaining funds, credit, credit cards, applying for loans, establishing accounts, leasing vehicles, and even finding employment. It is always filed as a felony, either second- or first-degree.


Burglary involves entering a residence or building with the intent to commit a criminal offense. The intended offense doesn’t have to be theft, but burglary and theft often go hand-in-hand. Burglary is a serious felony offense, ranging from first-, second-, or third-degree felonies.


Robbery is a serious felony offense in Florida, and the charges increase if you were armed at the time of crime. You could be charged with a first- or second-degree felony.

Home Invasion Robbery

A home invasion robbery offense is described as a person entering a dwelling with the intent to illegally take money or other property and then actually carrying out the robbery. You could be charged with a first-degree or life felony.


Forgery is committed when a person falsely makes, alters, forges, or counterfeits any written material with the intent to defraud or injure another individual. This crime is considered a third-degree felony.

Florida Theft or Fraud Penalties

Theft or fraud penalties can be felonies or misdemeanors. The more valuable the stolen item, the more severe the charges will be. The greater the charges, the higher the sentence could be.
In Florida, you face incarceration, fines, and probation. Penalties for misdemeanors and felonies include:

  • Life felonies are the most extreme charges you can get for theft or fraud charges. You could face life in prison without parole, and a maximum of $15,000 in fines.
  • You could receive up to 30 years in prison for a first-degree felony theft conviction, and up to $10,000 in fines.
  • A second-degree felony fraud or theft conviction could earn you up to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
  • You could serve five years in prison for a third-degree felony conviction and owe up to $5,000 in fines.
  • A first-degree misdemeanor conviction could get you up to one year in jail and $1,000 in fines.
  • A second-degree misdemeanor conviction could earn you up to 60 days in jail and a maximum fine of $500.

Besides incarceration and fines, you could face probation, community service, or rehabilitative classes.

Life After Fraud or Theft Charges

If you’ve been convicted of fraud or theft charges in Florida, you could face consequences even after you’ve served your debt to society. Criminal charges carry social stigmas forward: you may lose your standing within the community or have difficulty finding a job.
Some criminal convictions can affect professional licenses. You might have difficulty with immigration status if you’re charged with theft or fraud offenses. Hiring a criminal defense attorney is a good way to stay ahead of these issues.

Possible Defenses Against Florida Theft Charges

When you hire a criminal defense attorney to help with theft or fraud charges, they can evaluate the evidence in your case and recommend a defense strategy. The law says anyone accused of a crime is innocent until they are proven guilty. Your lawyer will ensure you get a fair investigation and trial.
Some defenses can include:

  • Mistaken identity. If you’re accused of stealing or deceiving someone, the alleged victim could be wrong about who committed the crime. Eyewitness testimony can be useful to get an idea about a crime’s timeline, but this testimony can be unreliable. You could have been picked out of a lineup because you resemble the thief. Your attorney can find evidence to show the accuser is wrong.
  • Incomplete investigation. When police conduct an investigation into a crime, there are regulations they follow so they find evidence to point to the culprit. Your lawyer can determine if the police were not thorough during their investigation. If there’s false evidence, or a clear lack of it, your attorney can argue for the charges to be dismissed.
  • Solid alibi.You might be completely innocent of the theft you’re accused of. If your lawyer can show you weren’t in the area or around when the theft or deceptions happened, you have a strong case for your innocence.

"Valcarcel is the best you will find."

Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. is the best you will find. Erika Valcarcel is completely honest and straightforward. She took a huge burden off my shoulders many times during difficult periods of my life knowing that she was doing everything that that could and should be done. Her knowledge is extensive and her advice has always been right on the mark. She is worth every penny of the fee she charges. You cannot go wrong securing her services.

Google Reviews logo

Joni A.

Why You Need a Sarasota Criminal Defense Lawyer

Finding a qualified theft defense lawyer can keep your life from being ruined.

The prosecutors involved in your fraud or theft case must prove you committed the crimes beyond a reasonable doubt. An experienced defense attorney can cast doubt in the prosecutor’s story and help you reach a not guilty verdict. Even in cases where the evidence against you is simply too strong, your lawyer can negotiate a plea deal for a lesser sentence that gets you back to normal life quickly.

Sarasota criminal defense lawyer Erika Valcarcel knows that a theft or fraud conviction can be devastating. That’s why she’ll look for the evidence that presents you in the best possible light, fight hard to protect your rights throughout the legal process, and argue to get your charges dismissed or reduced so that you can move on with your life.

Contact a Sarasota Theft Defense Lawyer

A theft or fraud charge can create significant stress and uncertainty about your future. Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. is here to help. Her knowledge of the courts in Sarasota and Manatee counties allows her to anticipate how local prosecutors and judges will approach your theft case so that she can plan the strongest defense against your charges. Don’t wait to get the help you need.

Call Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. today at (941) 363-7900 or use the online contact form to schedule a consultation about your theft or fraud charge.