Byron Donalds: Time to Raise the Felony Threshold in Florida

Naples Republican state Rep. Byron Donalds introduced a major criminal justice reform last week as he looks to raise the felony threshold from $300 to $1,000 in Florida, insisting his proposal will cut down on recidivism.

Donalds showcased his proposal towards the end of last week. Besides increasing the felony threshold amount, Donalds’ bill would “impose a minimum monetary felony threshold for third petit theft offenses.”

Speaking about the bill, Donalds insisted the current threshold is outdated.

“This threshold has not been changed in over 30 years,” said Donalds. “A lot has changed since then, and it’s past time for Florida to make this crucial reform that will save taxpayers millions of dollars and make our criminal justice system more effective.”

“Florida’s first-offense felony grand theft threshold has not been revised since 1986,” Donalds’ office noted. “Thirty-three years ago, when this threshold became law, websites did not exist, VCRs cost $300, and Ronald Reagan was our president.

“This legislation also removes juvenile offenses from being considered as priors for a petty theft as a third offense felony charge,” Donalds’ office continued.  “With 47 states having higher felony theft thresholds than Florida, this increase puts Florida on par with the national average. Since 2000, 37 states have raised their felony theft thresholds. Since then, these states all saw a reduction in property theft and larceny rates after those felony theft thresholds were increased.

“Legislative reform on this matter makes Florida smarter on crime while simultaneously saving taxpayers millions of dollars over the long term by ensuring prison is reserved for those who are a threat to public safety,” Donalds’ office insisted. “Individuals convicted of low-level theft offenses are fairly punished for their crimes, while still being able to maintain ties to their communities and become more productive members of society. These two factors have been proven to reduce recidivism.”

Donalds is pairing up with state Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, to champion this legislation.


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