The idea behind theft laws in Florida is straightforward: people have property rights that need to be protected. However, the elements of specific theft offenses, the possible punishment for a conviction of a theft crime, and defenses that the defendant may be able to assert will vary significantly from case to case. This makes it important to consult a property crime attorney for specific guidance. For example, two people could walk into a parking lot and each of them leave by using a vehicle that does not belong to them. If one of them zoomed off in an S-Class Mercedes, while the other cycled away on a used bike, they may both face a theft charge, but the results of the convictions may be drastically different. Tampa grand theft lawyer Will Hanlon assists people in the Tampa Bay area who have been accused of many serious offenses related to property.
The basic crime of theft is defined by Florida Statutes § 812.005. A person is considered to have broken the law when they knowingly take, obtain, or use someone else’s property, if they had the intent to deprive the rightful owner of the use or benefit of the property and if they actually appropriated the property for their own use (or for the use of someone else who was not legally entitled to the property). Theft crimes may be either felonies or misdemeanors, with the distinction usually being based on the value of the property that was taken from the alleged victim. The theft of relatively valuable property is “grand theft,” while taking an item worth much less may be only “petty theft.”Understanding the Nuances of Florida Grand Theft
Although a “felony” is technically any crime for which the accused may be sentenced to more than a year in jail, there are multiple levels of felony offenses in Florida. For the crime of grand theft, a third-degree felony conviction may result from the taking of property valued at $300 to $19,999 or from the theft of certain types of property, such as a firearm or a motor vehicle. A person convicted of third-degree grand theft faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. By contrast, a first-degree grand theft conviction (a theft of property valued at more than $100,000) may land the defendant in prison for up to 30 years and result in a fine of up to $10,000. If you are facing these potentially severe penalties, you need a dedicated grand theft attorney who can help Tampa residents present their side of the story.
A felony offender also faces other negative consequences for their life. Simply being “a convicted felon” is embarrassing and is often a lifelong hindrance when it comes to looking for work or finding decent housing. It may keep an offender from legally owning a firearm and even interfere with rights like voting or running for public office. Thus, a person who has been arrested or is under investigation for grand theft should talk to a lawyer who can help them understand this sometimes confusing area of the law. If the evidence offered by the State is weak or unreliable, the prosecutor may be willing to negotiate the charge down to a lesser offense, knowing that there is a chance that the State will not be able to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Additionally, the defendant’s constitutional rights may have been violated during the investigation of the case, possibly leading to the exclusion of certain physical evidence or testimony based on the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine.Explore Your Options with a Grand Theft Lawyer in the Tampa Area
Each case is different, so it is important to talk to a knowledgeable lawyer like Will Hanlon as soon as possible if you are facing a grand theft charge. For an appointment to discuss your case, call us at 813-228-7095 or contact us online. If you are facing criminal charges, you should not speak to police until you have talked to a Tampa grand theft attorney who can protect your rights. We are also available to help people who are seeking a petty theft lawyer or assistance in fighting charges of other property crimes.