Naples Theft Lawyer
As a child, you were likely taught that stealing was wrong and could get you in trouble with the law. Just like with many things, our knowledge of theft crimes was instilled in us in an overly simple way. As we’ve grown older, we have been confronted with more nuanced circumstances surrounding what is considered theft and how people are charged with theft crimes.
Many Naples residents are charged with theft despite not fitting precisely within the parameters of what is considered criminal. The penalties that follow vary based on the value of the stolen property but are often excessively harsh with a long-lasting impact on your reputation. No matter the penalties, theft offenses of all kinds are severe. If you want to protect your rights—especially if these accusations are untrue—you should contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
What Constitutes a Theft Crime?
According to Florida Statute Title XLVI Chapter 812.014(1), someone commits theft if they had every intention of willingly stealing or utilizing any item that is legally the property of another person, and they do so with the following purposes:
- To restrict the property owner’s ability to exercise rights over or profit from the property.
- To use the property for personal or business purposes or for the benefit of anybody else who does not legitimately and lawfully have the property’s ownership rights.
The criminal justice system in Florida treats theft as a serious offense. The first step in attempting to get a favorable outcome for your case is having a competent criminal defense lawyer in your corner who is experienced in handling theft crimes.
What are the Consequences for Crimes of Theft in Florida?
Without strong legal representation, a person accused of theft could be subject to exorbitant fines, jail time, and other penalties. In addition to the penalties you may face from the court, there are consequences you may face outside of the legal system due to a criminal theft conviction. People who have a criminal record often have trouble securing good housing or a well-paying job, and their interpersonal relationships may suffer as their reputation is tarnished.
Various theft offenses can be brought against someone who is arrested for stealing. The most frequent charges are petit theft, grand theft, robbery, and burglary. These charges range in severity from second-degree misdemeanors to first-degree felonies. If you have been charged with theft, it may be beneficial to review the distinctions between these offenses and their repercussions.
Penalties of Florida Petit Theft
Second-degree petit theft, often known as petty theft, is the least serious type of crime and comprises taking anything worth $100 or less. Penalties for the offense could include a fine of up to $500 and a sentence of up to 60 days in jail. A misdemeanor of the first degree will be brought against the accused if the stolen property has a value of $100 to $750. If convicted, they might spend up to a year in jail and pay fines totaling $1,000.
Penalties of Florida Grand Theft Degrees
Any theft offense involving notable items valued at less than $20,000 may be prosecuted as a third-degree felony. Example such items include the following:
- A prohibited substance
- A stop sign
- A firearm
- A motor vehicle
- Farm animals
This crime may also include taking something worth between $100 and $300 from someone’s premises. Up to five years in prison and fines up to $5,000 are possible consequences.
If the stolen property had a value of between $20,000 and $100,000, or if it included medical or law enforcement equipment worth $300 or more, the theft might be upgraded to a second-degree grand theft charge. Stolen cargo with an entry value of less than $50,000 into interstate commerce is likewise considered a second-degree crime. If found guilty, the penalty could be up to 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
If someone steals goods worth more than $100,000, a law enforcement semi-trailer, or interstate commerce worth more than $50,000, they may be prosecuted with a felony of the first degree, the most severe theft category in Florida. If a person committed a felony while operating a motor vehicle and caused more than $1,000 in property damage, they could potentially be charged in the first degree, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Additional Penalties to Repay Theft and Damage
Any person who has been convicted of stealing property, causing property damage, bodily injury to victims, or attempting to commit any of these acts will face further penalties under the supplemental fines law outlined in Florida Statute Title XLVI Chapter 812.032.
In addition to a fine that is often two times the gross value taken or destroyed, the court may also compel these individuals to pay restitution for the cost of the prosecution and the legal investigation.
How Are Verdicts Reached in Theft Cases?
Criminal theft cases must meet specific requirements to result in a guilty verdict. Based on Florida Statute Title XLVI Chapter 812.014, to convict someone accused of theft, the prosecution must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the following occurred:
- The defendant knowingly and willingly stole the victim’s property or attempted to do so.
- The defendant intentionally took the victim’s property to deny them ownership of it.
- The defendant intentionally used the property for their own benefit.
If the defendant asserts that they genuinely felt they had the legal right to retain ownership of this property, they may ultimately establish a compelling defense argument. Members of the court may not find the defendant guilty of theft offenses if they are uncertain as to whether or not the defendant was fully aware they did not have the right to retain this item.
While this defense seems simple, proving it requires extensive legal skill and may require the experience of a reliable theft lawyer.
Contact a Reliable Naples Theft Attorney to Fight Your Theft Charges
Theft is not always a straightforward allegation to prove. To be found guilty of theft, certain requirements must be satisfied. An adept theft attorney may be able to assess the facts of your case and work with you to develop a strong defense plan based on the available proof. The Law Office of Robert H. Hanaford could give you the legal guidance you need and may be able to put together a solid defense that effectively challenges the prosecution’s evidence.
In Florida, clients just like you have been the focus of Attorney Hanaford’s 38-year-long legal career. He understands how stressed someone in your position can be. He possesses the legal knowledge and skills needed to create a tailored legal strategy that could help you succeed. Call (239) 315-9750 or send a contact form to arrange a free appointment and learn more about how he can assist you.