Court Discusses Proving Theft Under Florida Law

Many crimes, including theft, contain an element of intent. In other words, the State must show that a defendant charged with an intent crime possessed the required mental state at the time the offense was committed; otherwise, the defendant should not be convicted. The evidence needed to demonstrate intent in a case in which a defendant is charged with theft was the topic of a recent Florida opinion, in a matter in which the defendant appealed his convictions for numerous crimes. If you are accused of theft or any other offense, it is in your best interest to talk to a knowledgeable Tampa theft defense attorney regarding your rights.

The Alleged Crimes

It is reported that on the night of the Super Bowl in 2017, the defendant, a friend, and the victim went to the victim’s house to search for ammunition and guns. They discussed seeking revenge on another person who burglarized the defendant’s. The following night, the victim was sitting outside when he heard gunshots. He then saw individuals get into the friend’s car. The car was later stopped by the police, and the defendant fell out of the backseat, reporting he had been shot.

Allegedly, the defendant’s blood and belongings were found inside of a car that had been stolen and abandoned on the highway. Surveillance video later revealed that three individuals were shot and killed in the victim’s backyard, including the person that the defendant sought revenge against, and the defendant’s car was parked nearby. The defendant was charged with and convicted of multiple homicide crimes and grand theft auto. During the trial, he moved for acquittal on the theft charge, but the court denied his motion. He appealed, arguing in part that the State did not prove he required the specific intent needed to commit theft.

Proving Theft Under Florida Law

On appeal, the appellate court explained that it generally will not reverse a conviction if it is supported by substantial and competent evidence. In moving for an acquittal, a defendant essentially admits the facts that are in evidence and every conclusion that is favorable to the State that can be inferred, reasonably and fairly, from the evidence.

Under Florida law, a person is guilty of theft if he or she knowingly obtains the property of another person with the intent to deprive the person of the right to use or benefit from the property or with the intent to appropriate the property for his or her own use, either permanently or temporarily. In the subject case, the court was not persuaded by the argument that the State failed to prove intent, noting that the evidence substantially indicated that the defendant took the car in question as a getaway car. Thus, the defendant’s conviction was affirmed.

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Tampa

People charged with criminal offenses are often able to argue that the State lacks the evidence needed to obtain a conviction. If you are faced with charges that you committed a theft crime, it is advisable to speak to a lawyer regarding your possible defenses. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is an experienced criminal defense attorney with the skills and resources needed to help you pursue a favorable result. You can reach Mr. Hanlon through the form online or by calling 813-228-7095 to set up a consultation.

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