Protecting your Liberty, Finances, and Reputation

COMMON LEGAL DEFENSES TO THEFT ACCUSATIONS


If the State cannot prove each element of theft (using or obtaining the property of someone else with the intent to deprive the owner of the use or value of the property), then the State cannot successfully prosecute a person for theft. However, even if the accused person did obtain property that belonged to another person and did so with the intent to the deprive that person of the use of the property, there may be other defenses that apply.


Equal Ownership


A co-owner or joint owner of property cannot be convicted of Grand Theft for using or taking the property unless the complaining co-owner had a superior legal interest in the property. Two people with equal ownership interest in property cannot generally claim the other person is committing a theft for taking or using the property.


Valueless Property


It is impossible to steal valueless trash because Florida law only criminalizes the stealing of "property." Property is defined as "anything of value." Value is the "the market value of property at the time and place of the offense or, if such cannot be satisfactorily ascertained, the cost of replacement of the property within a reasonable time after the offense." If someone dumps items by the road for the trash man to pick up, then that item is presumed to be abandoned by the owner and without value.

 

Abandonment


If a person intends to steal, but then changes his or her mind before completing the theft, and the circumstances can show that the person acted in a way that completely denunciated his or her criminal intent, then the person has "abandoned" the criminal purpose. One cannot claim abandonment after he or she realizes that they are about to get caught. The realization that one is about to get caught cannot serve as the basis to legally abandon the criminal intent.

BREVARD COUNTY THEFT DEFENSE ATTORNEY


If you have been charged with a theft offense, you should immediately consult with a Brevard County Theft Defense Attorney. Theft charges are considered "crimes of dishonesty." Potential employers will most certainly look into the background of any potential hire. Employers will likely treat crimes of dishonesty more seriously than other crimes that have no bearing on a person's honesty. Crimes of dishonesty, like theft cases, should be defended against vigorously because they have longstanding consequences if convicted. As a former prosecutor turned defense attorney, Jason Hicks has experience handling theft accusations. Jason will look at your theft case from every angle to try and seek the best result available to you under the circumstances.


Types of Theft Charges in Florida


In the state of Florida, there are many types of offenses that are associated with theft. Some of the more common types of theft charges in Florida are petit theft, retail theft, shoplifting, and grand theft. There are other types of charges that are associated with theft such as: worthless check, dealing or trafficking in stolen property, robbery, burglary, and false verification of ownership or false identification to a pawnbroker.


Elements of Theft Charges under Florida Law


In order to be convicted of theft in Florida, the prosecutor must prove the following two elements beyond all reasonable doubt:


1.The person accused of theft unlawfully and knowingly used or obtained, or endeavored to use or obtain, the property that was allegedly taken from the victim;


2.The person accused of theft did so with the intent to permanently or temporarily;


3.Deprive the victim of his or her right to the property or any benefit from the property.


Degrees of Theft under Florida Law


Theft charges, and their potential punishments, are divided into different "degrees." In determining what degree a person should be charged with depends on the value of the property taken.


Petit Theft and Retail Theft


The most common theft charges in Florida involve "petit theft" or "retail theft." Petit theft usually involves stealing from someone and taking their property that is worth less than $300. So if a defendant steals $299 or less out a person's wallet, the defendant will likely be charged with petit theft, a misdemeanor. If the value of the property taken is under $100 then the defendant will be charged with a second degree misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 60 days in county jail, six months probation, and a $500 fine. If the value of the property taken is between $100 and $300 then the defendant will likely be charge with a first degree misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 364 days in county jail, one year probation, and a $1,000 fine.


If a defendant steals $299 worth or less of merchandise out a store, that defendant will likely be charged with misdemeanor retail theft.


Grand Theft


If the value of property stolen is more than $300, then the Defendant is typically charged with felony "grand theft." Grand theft is also divided into various degrees based on the value of the stolen property.


3rd Degree Felony: If the value of the property taken is $300 or more, but less than $20,000 then the crime is typically charged as grand theft in the third degree which is punishable by up to five years in state prison, up to 5 years of probation, and a $5,000 fine. One can be charged with a third degree felony theft even if the item stolen is worth less than $300 if the item is: a firearm, a motor vehicle, or a will or other testamentary device.


Second Degree Felony: If the value of the property taken is $20,000 or more but less than $100,000, then the crime is typically charged as a second degree felony punishable by up to fifteen years in Florida State Prison, 15 years of probation, and a $10,000 fine.


First Degree Felony: If the value of the property taken was $100,000 or more then the crime is typically charged as grand theft in the first degree which is punishable by up to thirty years in Florida State Prison and/or a $10,000 fine.


It should be noted that any person convicted of any theft, regardless of degree, can be ordered to pay a fine (even if that fine is greater than the fine described above) of up to twice the value the defendant gained by stealing or twice the value of the loss caused to the victim, whichever is greater.


Other Potential Punishments for Theft


In addition to the potential punishments described above (jail, probation, and fines), the Court may order other punishment for the conviction to include a driver's license suspension, restitution to the victim, issue a "no return" order to the location, take theft or financial responsibility classes, complete community service, to name a few.

 

The material presented on the Jason Hicks Law Firm, PLLC website is intended for information purposes only. It is not intended as professional advice and should not be construed as such. FLORIDA LAW CHANGES RAPIDLY AND THE DISCUSSIONS OF LEGAL ISSUES CONTAINED IN THIS WEBSITE ARE NOT UPDATED DAILY. SPEAK TO A LAWYER FOR UP TO DATE LEGAL ADVISE. DO NOT RELY SIMPLY ON A WEBSITE. Transmission of the information and material herein is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an agreement to create an attorney-client relationship with the Jason Hicks Law Firm or any member thereof. Some links within this website may lead to other sites. Jason Hicks Law Firm does not necessarily sponsor, endorse or otherwise approve of the materials appearing in such sites.

Former State Prosecutor

Jason Hicks Law Firm

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