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West Palm Beach Theft Attorney Josh LeRoy on:

Theft & Related Charges

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An experienced West Palm Beach Theft Attorney can make all the difference in the world when it comes to your final sentence – life changing differences.  A few of the most common charges that fall in the Theft category are detailed below.

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What to know before hiring a West Palm Beach Shoplifting Attorney for Petty Theft of Value Less Than $300: F.S. 812.014?

Shoplifting charge is one of the most common forms of theft. Petite Theft (value less than $300) is the taking of property of another, even temporarily, to deprive the owner of the use of property or to use the property for oneself.

The fair market value of the property taken is the determining factor in the degree of the charge. Fair Market Value means the current cost to replace the item. The theft of property valued at less than $100.00 is a second degree misdemeanor. The theft of property valued between $100.00 and $300.00 is a first degree misdemeanor, whereas if the property stolen is valued at over $300.00 the crime is a felony.

However sometimes, a felony can be charged regardless of the value of the property, i.e. stealing a fire extinguisher,

Petty Theft – Shoplifting – Theft (Value Less Than $300) – F.S. 812.014
Petty Theft – Shoplifting – Theft (Value Less Than $300) – F.S. 812.014

car, from a construction site, or a stop sign can result in felony charges. Not to mention that theft is also a crime whose punishment can be enhanced with each successive conviction. That means that if you have two prior theft convictions, a third theft charge, regardless of the value or nature of the item stolen, can be a felony.

Beyond the criminal arena, having a theft conviction can and will likely affect your career. Few if any businesses are willing to hire persons with a criminal history for stealing.

How is it found how much the stolen object is worth?

Much like grand theft, the property is valued at the market value when the object was allegedly stolen, regardless of how much was paid for the object when it was purchased.

What is the punishment for petty theft in Palm Beach County?

Any stolen property worth $100 or less is considered 2nd degree petty theft, and is a 2nd degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by less than sixty days in jail and less than $500 fine. Property worth between $100 and $300 is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by a minimum of a year in jail and less than $1,000 fine.

Can I get my driver’s license suspended from a petty theft conviction in Palm Beach County?

Yes, if you have been convicted of petty theft in Florida, you may have your license suspended. The chances of that go up substantially if you have prior theft convictions.

Will my punishment be harsher if I have prior convictions?

More than likely, yes. Prior convictions will increase your offense status.

What do I need to know before hiring a West Palm Beach Grand Theft Attorney: F.S. 812.014?

It is imperative that you understand all of your legal options before you begin a trial for Grand Theft, because there are so many defenses and various punishments. The convictions and punishments for a grand theft charge largely depend on the worth of the objects allegedly stolen.

A person is charged with First degree Grand Theft when the property is worth $100k and above. This is a First Degree Felony, which comes with a maximum 30 years in prison, and up to $10k in fines.

Grand Theft – F.S. 812.014
Grand Theft – F.S. 812.014

When the property is worth between $20k and $99,999, the charge is second degree grand theft. Second degree grand theft is a second degree felony, which is a maximum 15 years in prison and up to $10k in fines.

If stolen items are worth between $300 and $19,999, the charge is third degree grand theft. This is a third degree felony, and also is added if the stolen property is a firearm, automobile, and various other items. The sentence for a third degree felony is -5 year jail sentence and $5k fine.

As mentioned above, there are various defenses to a grand theft charge, it is possible to get the necessary help in order to maintain your current lifestyle.

Is grand theft always a felony?

Because of the high value of the property allegedly stolen, grand theft is always a felony charge. There are also varying levels of the felony charge, depending on the value, what the property stolen is, and many other variables.

What sort of defenses would a good West Palm Beach Theft Attorney use for a Grand Theft charge?

It must be proven that you had an intent to take something that you knew belonged to someone else, and you had not rights to it. Also, it must be proven that you did not have consent from the owner of the property to take or use the property or object. Contact an experienced theft attorney to learn all of your options.

I don’t think the object that was allegedly taken was worth what the owner said it was, how can a West Palm Beach Theft Attorney fight it?

The value of the item is given by the market value of the item at the time that it was stolen; the value of the item when it was bought has no impact on the trial. For example, if the item was $1,000 when it was purchased, and at the time of the alleged theft its market value was $500, then the property is deemed worth $500.

What should I know before hiring a West Palm Beach Carjacking Attorney for Carjacking: F.S. 812.133+?

Carjacking charge is a crime of violence. Carjacking is essentially the use of force, threat, or violence to take a motor vehicle from a person.

Carjacking is a level 7 offense, first degree felony. According to the Florida Criminal Punishment Code, the minimum

Carjacking – F.S. 812.133+
Carjacking – F.S. 812.133+

sentence you will receive is 21 months in prison if found guilty or convicted, and you have zero (0) priors. However, because the crime is a first degree felony, you may be sentenced up to thirty (30) years in prison or thirty (30) years probation. Additionally a fine of up to $10,000 is possible.

The use of a firearm or other deadly weapon during a carjacking seriously enhances the possible punishments, pushing the charge to a level 9 offense. According to the Florida Criminal Punishment Code, the minimum sentence you will receive is 48 months in prison if found guilty or convicted, and you have zero (0) priors.

However, because the weapon pushes the crime to a punishable by life felony, you may be sentenced up to life in prison or lifetime probation. If a firearm is possessed during the commission of the crime, even if not used, the 10/20/life rule is applied. A mandatory ten (10) years in prison is required if a firearm is possessed during the commission of the crime. A mandatory twenty (20) years in required if a firearm is fired during the commission of the crime. If someone was killed or injured as a result of the firearm being shot, a mandatory sentence of at least twenty-five (25) years must be imposed.

There are defenses to a carjacking charge, and the best course of action is to contact a skilled Theft Attorney knowledgeable in carjacking case law. I have resolved many carjacking cases to lessor offenses, including grand theft auto.

What is False Verification of Ownership: F.S. 538.4?

False verification of ownership charge usually occurs at pawn shops or gold dealers, wherein sellers are required to verify that they are the owners of the property being pawned or sold. Often times, stolen items are pawned in order to get quick cash on items that were taken. Pawn shops have managed to buy and sell in stolen property for years with complete immunity, wherein the person pawning/selling items are arrested.

False Verification Of Ownership, F.S. 538.4(4)
False Verification Of Ownership, F.S. 538.4(4)

The charge often accompanies the charges of Dealing in Stolen Property and Grand Theft.

So what are you facing as a possible sentence if charged with verification of ownership in Palm Beach County?

The answer depends on how much the item is worth. If the seller receives less than $300, it’s a 3rd degree lawful felony, meaning up to five (5) years in jail. On the other hand, if the seller got more than $300.00, the charge is a 2nd degree felony offense, meaning up to fifteen (15) years in prison.

What evidence does the State Attorney need to prove a “False Verification of Ownership” charge?

Usually the signed pawn slip is sufficient evidence to support a conviction, assuming that an employee of the pawnshop testifies to the contents of the slip. Above the signature line is an oath that the seller makes that he/she owns the property and that the property is not stolen. The pawn slip also requires a fingerprint, usually the thumb, of the seller. Thus, the identity of the seller can be easily established.

What is Theft of Lost or Abandoned Property: F.S. 705.102?

Finders keepers, loser’s weepers? Not according to the Florida Legislature. In the State of Florida, it “…is unlawful for any person who finds any lost or abandoned property to appropriate the same to his or her own use or to refuse to deliver the same when required…” s.705.102(3).

This odd crime probably makes all of us criminals. According to this law, if you find a book, a hubcap, or a piece of used furniture, on the side of the road, the object having been abandoned by its former owner, and you pick up the item and take it home, you are a thief, having committed an act that Florida law calls theft.

This law was probably passed for the purpose of prosecuting true thieves who, when apprehended, claim they “found”

Theft Of Lost Or Abandoned Property, F.S. 705.102
Theft Of Lost Or Abandoned Property, F.S. 705.102

the objects that, in fact, they had stolen. But the absurd consequence of adopting such a law is that it criminalizes the common, innocent conduct of acquiring an object that another has clearly abandoned, exemplified in the maxim that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

What are the penalties for theft of lost or abandoned property?

  • If the value of the lost or abandoned property is less than $300, the crime is considered petit theft, a misdemeanor, punishable by a term of probation up to a term if incarceration in the county jail.
  • If the value of the lost or abandoned property is worth more than $300, it is considered grand theft. Florida law classifies grand theft as a felony. A defendant convicted of this offense is subject to penalties ranging from probation up to a term of years in state prison. The potential sentence is determined according to the value of the property lost or abandoned

What typical defenses really good West Palm Beach Theft Attorney use for a Theft Of Lost Or Abandoned Property charge?

If the lost or abandoned object is considered to have no value, it is, as a consequence, considered “trash.” And it is impossible to steal trash.

What should I know about Theft of State Funds (F.S. 206.56) before hiring a Theft Attorney?

According to Florida law, Theft of State Funds occurs when a person, “…knowingly obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or use, taxes collected pursuant to this chapter, with the intent, either temporarily or permanently, to deprive the state of a right to the funds or a benefit therefrom, or appropriate the funds to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled thereto, commits theft of state funds.”

Theft Of State Funds – F.S. 206.56
Theft Of State Funds – F.S. 206.56

In simpler words, Theft of State Funds occurs when, without consent, a person, intentionally deprives the state of Florida, directly or indirectly, of tax money.

What defenses will a skilled West Palm Beach Theft Attorney use for a Theft of State Funds charge?

In Florida, the law requires the government to present legal, unimpeachable proof that the defendant possessed a genuine intent to unlawfully take money from the state and to use such funds for personal reasons. Consequently, if the State cannot prove the defendant intended to unlawfully take such money, the prosecution will fail. Similarly, because the law requires personal use of the funds, it is unlikely the government could successfully prosecute someone working in the capacity of an accountant.

What are the penalties for theft of state funds?

  • Theft of less than $300, a first-degree misdemeanor, is punishable by penalties ranging from a term of probation up to one year in the county jail;
  • Theft of $300 to $20,000, a third degree felony, is punishable by penalties ranging from a term of probation up to 5 years in state prison.
  • Theft of $20,000-$100,000, a second-degree felony, is punishable by penalties ranging from a term of probation up to 15 years in prison.
  • Theft of more than $100,000, a first-degree felony, is punishable by penalties ranging from a term of probation up to 30 years in jail.

What is Dealing in Stolen Property: F.S. 812.019?

Florida law defines Dealing in Stolen Property as a crime that occurs when, “Any person who traffics in, or endeavors to traffic in, property that he or she knows or should know was stolen…” or alternatively, when “any person who initiates, organizes, plans, finances, directs, manages, or supervises the theft of property and traffics in such stolen property…”

What are the penalties for Dealing in stolen property?

Dealing In Stolen Property – F.S. 812.019+
Dealing In Stolen Property – F.S. 812.019+

  • As a second-degree felony, dealing in stolen property is punishable by penalties ranging from a term of probation to up to 15 years in state prison.
  • If the person found guilty also organized the theft and was trafficking the property, Florida law classifies the offense as first-degree felony, with penalties ranging from a term of probation to up to 30 years in prison.

What are common defenses a theft attorney will use for Dealing in Stolen Property?

In past cases, defendants have succeeded in defeating the State’s charges by showing ignorance that the property was stolen, by refuting the victim’s claim that he owned the property, and showing lack of proof that the property was indeed stolen. In addition, if the State obtained its evidence against the defendant in violation of the Constitution, the defendant, through his lawyer, can move the judge to exclude the evidence from the case. When this happens, the State, realizing that it can no long prevail, commonly drops the case, or the judge dismisses the case.

Related Cases

PAWNING STOLEN GOODS

This PAWNING STOLEN GOODS case involved:

  • The Incident: The Client had allegedly pawned a stolen firearm for her boyfriend.
  • The Charges: Dealing in Stolen Property and False Verification of Ownership.
  • My Counsel & Defense: I negotiated an agreement whereby client completed a theft class.
  • The VERDICT: The Client received 25 hours of community service, and was required to reimburse the firearm’s owner for the value of the gun. Deferred Prosecution resulting in Nolle Prosse

related laws:
Dealing in Stolen Property
False Verification of Ownership

Petty Theft: COUPLE CAUGHT SHOPLIFTING

This Petty Theft case involved:

  • The Incident: Husband & Wife were spotted shoplifting and arrested on the spot.
  • The Charges: Retail Theft charges for Husband and Wife.
  • The VERDICT: Clients each did a theft class and paid a $50.00 fine. As a result all charges were dropped. – Deferral Agreement for Nolle Prosse

related laws:
Petty Theft

GRAND LARCENY

  • The Incident: Target was the scene of this crime. The client allegedly walked out of the store with a shopping cart full of items, the value of which was well over the $300.00 line dividing petit theft from grand theft, which is a third degree felony.
  • The Charges: Grand Theft
  • My Counsel & Defense: When the State refused to negotiate a Reckless Driving charge, the client and I decided to proceed to trial.
  • My Counsel and The VERDICT: While the client was originally arrested for grand theft, The Charges were downfiled to the misdemeanor, petit theft. Once that was accomplished, I negotiated a deferral agreement, whereby the client completed a theft class and minimal community service, and the case was dismissed.

related laws:
Grand Theft

GRAND THEFT & FELON IN POSSESSION OF A FIREARM, West Palm Beach, FL.

  • The Incident: I took over this case from another attorney, because the client was dissatisfied with the representation that he was receiving from the other attorney.
  • The Charges: Grand theft of a firearm. Felon in Possession of a Firearm.
  • My Counsel & Defense: When I was retained, the client was being offered a prison sentence (3 year minimum mandatory charge); I drafted and filed a lengthy Motion to Suppress.
  • The VERDICT: The State agreed to drop the firearm charge and sentence client to straight probation without any further incarceration for the grand theft charge. Firearm charge dropped.

related laws:
Grand Theft
Felon in Possession of a Firearm

If You’ve Been Charged Call West Palm Beach Theft Attorney Josh LeRoy Because Experience Wins. Can You Afford To Lose?

If you, or someone you know, find yourself in need of a Theft Attorney in Palm Beach County (from Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Lake Worth, West Palm Beach and up to Jupiter), or any of the surrounding areas use the form below to drop me a note. Let me know a bit about yourself, what’s happened, and a good time to contact you.

-Joshua LeRoy, Esq.

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