In Florida, theft crimes are divided into petit theft and grand theft, based on the value of the property that was taken. Theft is the illegal taking or using of property or funds with the intent to deprive the owner of her or his rights to the property. If you are charged with grand theft, you face the possibility of harsh consequences, including prison time and fines. At Hanlon Law, Bradenton theft crime lawyer Will Hanlon fights to protect the rights of people accused of grand theft and other serious offenses, ranging from sex crimes to drug crimes.Defenses to Grand Theft Charges in Florida
To establish grand theft under Florida Statutes section 812.014, a prosecutor must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that you unlawfully and knowingly used, obtained, or tried to use or obtain the property of someone else, the property was worth at least $300, and you acted with the intent of permanently or temporarily keeping the victim from their right to the property or benefits of the property or to appropriate the victim’s property to your own use or the use of someone else who was not entitled to it.
There are tiers of grand theft charges. The least serious are for cases in which the property at issue is worth $300-$20,000 or when it is another type of statutorily specified property, such as a will, codicil, testamentary instrument, car, firearm, commercially farmed animal, fire extinguisher, stop sign, certain controlled substance, or material taken from certain designated construction sites. In that case, it is charged as a third-degree felony. You potentially face a maximum of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The second-most serious grand theft charges are those involving property worth at least $20,000, but less than $100,000. You can be charged with second-degree felony grand theft if the property is worth this amount or if the property at issue is cargo in the stream of commerce from a shipper’s loading platform to a receiving dock that is worth less than $50,000. You can also be charged with a second-degree felony if the property at issue is emergency medical equipment worth at least $300 taken from certain licensed facilities, aircrafts, or vehicles, or if the property at issue is certain law enforcement equipment. Second-degree felonies can be punished by a maximum of 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The most serious grand theft charges are for property worth at least $100,000. This is a first-degree felony. You can also be charged with a first-degree felony if the property is cargo worth at least $50,000 and is in the stream of commerce from a shipper’s loading platform to a consignee’s receiving dock. First-degree felonies can be punished by a maximum of 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
There is an intent requirement that must be established by the prosecutor in order to secure a conviction for grand theft. With grand theft charges, specific intent must be proven. That is, it is not enough for the prosecutor to show that you took property that belonged to someone else. Also, they must show that you did so with the goal of depriving the owner of his or her property rights. The jury needs to be able to reasonably infer specific intent from competent evidence. Sometimes, the strongest defense in a grand theft case is to raise a reasonable doubt with the prosecutor and the jury about specific intent. In some cases, there is a plausible narrative about why you used or obtained the property that your attorney may be able to tell. In other cases, there may be grounds to get the evidence about intent (or another element of the grand theft charge) suppressed, such that the charge cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
It can be helpful for an attorney to get involved during the pre-filing stage, so it is important to call us as soon as you realize that you are being investigated. In some cases, grand theft charges are brought alongside other serious charges, such as burglary, and we will need to make sure that the defense strategy addresses all of the charges.Hire a Theft Defense Lawyer in Bradenton to Protect Your Rights
Will Hanlon is an experienced and aggressive trial attorney who has been defending the accused since 1994. If you have been charged with grand theft or another serious crime in the Bradenton area, such as drug trafficking, you should give us a call at 941.253.0254 or contact us via our online form. We take pride in helping our clients keep their records clean and their futures intact.