Articles Posted in Theft

In Florida, people charged with crimes have numerous rights. For example, they have the right to be tried for their alleged crimes within a reasonable time; if they are not, they may be able to assert that the State violated their right to a speedy trial, and, therefore, the charges against them should be dismissed. In a recent Florida opinion issued in a case in which the defendant was charged with identity theft, the court discussed what a defendant making a speedy trial argument must prove to prevail. If you are accused of a theft crime, it is wise to speak with a Tampa theft crime defense attorney about your rights as soon as possible.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with identity theft and wire fraud. During his trial, the government alleged that the defendant, who was an attorney, obtained litigation advances from financing companies in the names of his clients without their knowledge and used the fraudulently obtained funds to pay his law firm’s expenses. The jury convicted the defendant of the charged offenses. He subsequently appealed on several grounds, including a violation of the Speedy Trial Act, insufficient evidence to support his convictions and an error in the jury instruction regarding deliberate ignorance.

The Speedy Trial Act

The Speedy Trial Act mandates that a defendant’s trial should start within seventy days from the indictment’s filing or the defendant’s initial appearance, whichever is later.

Regarding the Speedy Trial Act, the defendant contended on appeal that the time between filing a motion and the conclusion of the related hearing should not be excluded from the speedy trial calculation. However, the court noted that such time is, in fact, excludable under the Act. In the defendant’s case, the district court deferred ruling on their motion until a pretrial conference, and this time was properly excluded from the speedy trial calculation, thereby dismissing the defendant’s Speedy Trial Act violation claim.

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During a criminal trial, the jury or judge will typically assess whether the evidence, when assessed in conjunction with current statutory and case law, is sufficient to establish the defendant’s guilt. If, after a defendant is convicted, it becomes evident that there is new evidence or an intervening change in law, the defendant may be eligible for a new trial. In a recent opinion delivered in a fraud case, a Florida court discussed what evidence is needed to demonstrate that a new trial is warranted. If you are charged with a fraud offense, it is wise to speak to a Tampa fraud defense attorney to determine your options for seeking a favorable outcome.

Factual and Procedural Setting

It is reported that the defendant stood trial for six charges related to a fraud scheme involving clearing vehicle titles of liens from financial institutions and other lienholders. The scheme included false and fraudulent towing and storage liens, false claims of vehicle sales at public auctions, and the submission of fabricated documents to Florida tax collector offices.

Allegedly, after a four-day trial, the jury found the defendant guilty on four of the counts against him, one of which was aggravated identity theft. The jury instruction for this count, which both the defendant and the government proposed and to which the defendant did not object, required the government to prove that the means of identification was possessed “during and in relation to” the crime alleged in the indictment. The defendant subsequently sought a new trial on the aggravated identity theft count. Continue Reading ›

Under Florida law, people can be charged with multiple distinct crimes stemming from a single criminal incident. They cannot be convicted of the same offense more than once, however, as it violates double jeopardy. While in some cases, it is clear that a conviction violates a defendant’s double jeopardy rights, in others, it is less evident. Recently, a Florida court issued an opinion in a car theft case in which it discussed the process of determining whether a conviction violates double jeopardy. If you are accused of a theft offense, it is smart to consult a Tampa theft crime defense attorney to discuss your possible defenses.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant agreed to repair a car for his friend and subsequently borrowed tools from his friend’s sister. He drove off with the car and the tools and did not return the car for a week; he never returned the tools. The state charged him with grand theft of a car and theft of tools. He was found guilty of both crimes, after which he appealed.

Determining if a Conviction Violates Double Jeopardy

On appeal, the defendant argued that his convictions violated double jeopardy. The court disagreed and denied his appeal. In doing so, it explained that double jeopardy bars a person from being prosecuted, convicted, or punished for the same crime more than once. In cases of theft convictions where the crimes are merely different degrees of the core offense of theft, multiple convictions arising out of the same core offense violate double jeopardy.

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People incarcerated in federal prisons typically have to serve the entirety of their sentences unless they are eligible for parole or get credit for good behavior. In some instances, though, federal prisoners may be able to obtain a compassionate release. Only reasons enumerated by statute qualify for release, however, as explained in a recent Florida case in which the court denied the request for compassionate release of a defendant convicted of robbery. If you are accused of robbery or another theft crime, it is prudent to consult a Tampa theft offense defense attorney to determine what measures you can take to protect your rights.

Procedural Background of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was convicted of numerous robbery-related crimes and sentenced to 270 months in federal prison. In addition to his robbery offenses, he had previously been arrested for several other crimes. He subsequently filed a motion for compassionate release pursuant to federal law on the grounds that he had multiple medical conditions and was exposed to an increased risk of COVID-19.

It is reported that the government opposed the defendant’s motion, noting that the defendant’s claimed conditions did not qualify as one of the medical conditions set forth in the statutory guidelines that constitute grounds for granting compassionate release. The court agreed with the government’s reasoning and denied the defendant’s motion. The defendant then appealed. Continue Reading ›

In addition to issuing prison sentences, federal courts have the right to order people convicted of certain crimes to pay restitution. Such amounts generally must reflect the actual damages caused, however; otherwise, defendants may be able to argue that they are unconstitutional. Recently, a Florida court examined what constitutes appropriate restitution in an identity theft case in which it ultimately rejected the defendant’s argument that the amount imposed was excessive. If you are accused of committing a theft crime, it is important to understand your rights, and you should speak to a Tampa theft crime defense attorney as soon as possible.

Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the federal government indicted the defendant with aggravated identity theft, mail fraud, and other offenses. He entered into a written plea agreement, agreeing to plead guilty to two of the counts and to make full restitution to the victims of his crimes. Further, he acknowledged that the restitution amount determined by the court would be in excess of $260,000 and that he waived the right to appeal the sentence imposed unless it exceeded the sentencing guideline range or statutory maximum or violated his Eighth Amendment rights.

It is reported that the court accepted the defendant’s guilty plea and the plea agreement, sentenced him to approximately 250 months in prison, and ordered him to pay restitution in excess of $440,000. He appealed, arguing that the government failed to offer evidence of loss sufficient to support the restitution amount. Continue Reading ›

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While identity theft typically does not cause bodily harm, it is nonetheless a serious crime, and many people convicted of such offenses can spend years in prison. Regardless of the nature of an offense, though, the punishment imposed must be reasonable; otherwise, it may be overturned. Recently, a Florida court examined what constitutes an appropriate sentence for aggravated identity theft and other offenses in a case in which it rejected the defendant’s appeal. If you are accused of a theft crime, it is in your best interest to speak to a Tampa theft crime defense lawyer about your options for seeking a favorable outcome.

Historical Background of the Case

Allegedly, the defendant was charged with aggravated identity theft and access device fraud in violation of federal law. He pled guilty to both charges pursuant to a written plea agreement. The facts in the plea agreement indicated that the defendant obtained personal identifying data from over 100 victims and then used the data to access dormant credit cards or obtain new cards.

Reportedly, he then used the cards in stores throughout the country and sold the materials he purchased with the cards on the internet. The total financial losses caused by the theft exceeded $650,000. The court accepted the defendant’s guilty plea, following the magistrate’s recommendation. It ultimately imposed a sentence of 96 months imprisonment, which was above the range set forth in the sentencing guidelines. The defendant appealed. Among other things, he argued that the sentence was unreasonable. Continue Reading ›

The coronavirus spread rapidly through many prisons, causing extreme illness, death, and fear of lasting health concerns. Thus, many inmates with concerning health issues have sought modifications of their sentences under the CARES Act and other federal statutes, but such requests are not readily granted. Recently, a Florida court issued an opinion explaining the grounds for reducing or changing a sentence in light of the pandemic in a case in which the petitioner was imprisoned for multiple theft crimes. If you are accused of stealing property or any other crime, it is advisable to confer with a skilled Tampa theft defense attorney to discuss your options.

The Defendant’s Petition

It is reported that the defendant was convicted of possessing unauthorized access devices and aggravated theft in violation of federal law and sentenced to thirty months imprisonment followed by three years of probation. He was housed at a federal prison. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the defendant petitioned the court for a modification of his sentence. Specifically, he requested a release to home confinement under the CARES Act or a compassionate release under federal law. Upon review, the court denied his petition.

Reductions and Modifications of Sentences

Typically, a court cannot change a term of imprisonment after it has been imposed. In other words, district courts have no inherent authority to alter a prison sentence and can only do so when permitted by statute or rule. The defendant first requested a modification of his sentence to home release pursuant to the CARES Act. The court noted, however, it lacked the authority to grant this relief.

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