Articles Posted in Property Crimes

In Florida, someone who has been convicted of a crime can consider appealing a conviction to obtain relief from the conviction and sentence.  The criminal court system allows appeal.  However, most lower court decisions are upheld.  Therefore, attempting to appeal a case may be a significant challenge.  Some appeals are a matter of right and some are discretionary on the part of the appellate court.  Generally, the party the files the appeal attempts to show a material error on the part of the trial court.

What Type of Error is Substantial?

The appellate courts distinguish between harmless error and a material error.  Where an appellate court reviews an error as harmless, it is not considered to have a substantial impact on the disposition and eventual result of the case.  Where an error by a trial court does not show that it affects the substantial rights of a party, it may be difficult to prove that a material mistake was made by the trial court and obtain relief.

What is Mens Rea? 

Mens Rea is the mental element of an individual’s intent to commit a crime.  It can also be expressed as the knowledge that a particular act would result in a crime being committed.

Why is Mens Rea significant if I have been accused of a crime?

The United States Supreme Court handed down a decision that has been historic in a case entitled the Miranda v. Arizona, in 1966Essentially, four cases made it to the United States Supreme Court with similar issues.  All cases involved interrogation by police in a closed room where the putative Defendant was cut off from the outside world.  In three of these cases, the Defendant signed statements that were admitted at trial and one of the cases involved oral statements admitted at trial.  Following the Miranda Case, whenever a person is taken into detention, that individual must be advised of their Fifth Amendment right against making any self-incriminating statements.  When the police question someone in custody, they must advise:

  1. You have the right to remain silent.
  2. Anything that you say can and will be used against you.

What is Petit Theft?

Petit Theft is defined in the Florida Statutes under F.S. 812.014(2)-(3)(c).  Where property that is involved in a theft is valued at less than $750, petit theft is usually the correct charge.

In order to prove the crime of Petit Theft, the following must be proven:

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is what Florida’s Speedy Trial Rules are based upon.  The right to a Speedy Trial is a fundamental right.  It is designed to eliminate incarceration for long periods of time when one is accused of a crime.  The Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure provide that persons charged with a crime will be brought to trial within 90 days of arrest where the crime charged is a misdemeanor and within 175 days where the crime charged is a felony. Rule 3.191(b) provides for a Defendant to demand a speedy trial in writing and when this occurs, he or she is entitled to trial within 50 days.  Under this rule, such a demand signifies that the Defendant is prepared to proceed to trial within 5 days.

What happens if the state fails to conduct a trial within the statutory time periods? 

Where the state fails too bring the accused to trial within the above referenced time periods, the Defendant is discharged (except for exceptions to the tolling of these time periods).

Is There a Warrant Issued in My Name?

There are numerous warrants issued for almost every type of crime that occurs in Florida.  The warrant system is used to apprehend criminals and those accused of a crime.  Despite the belief that warrants expire, they do not.  Additionally, warrants can be executed at anytime.  Just because you may not be located within the territory of the state that issued a warrant, you are not safe from exposure to arrest.  It is common for warrants to be issued for both felonies and misdemeanors in Florida.  A warrant will be active until it is served, the individual dies, or the judge recalls the warrant.  It is important to resolve a warrant promptly, so one does not have to deal with a multitude of problems unexpectedly.  Your arrest could result from the most minor traffic stop for a tailgate light.

The FDLE has a database which usually lists active warrants and may be found online at http://www.fdle.state.fl.us/.  You can select “search wanted persons” and you will be taken to a search screen.

When Should You File a Post Conviction Relief Motion in Florida?

A motion for post conviction relief is a motion that is filed after an individual is convicted of a crime where the court is being asked to relieve a person from their conviction.  The following grounds may be used as the reason for filing:

  1. The sentence imposed was illegal or violates the Florida or United States Constitution.

What Are the Potential Costs?

When an individual is charged with theft or shoplifting in Florida, he or she faces potentially serious penalties.  This can affect one’s ability to secure a job because such a crime is classified as a crime of dishonesty.  This is significant even though a misdemeanor is typically considered relatively insignificant.  When a potential employer performs a background check and finds a conviction for such a crime in a candidate’s history, it may disqualify the candidate depending on the type of job.  The penalties for shoplifting or retail theft include jail, fines, civil penalties, restitution, court costs, and attorney’s fees.  In the event one is convicted a Grand Theft in Florida, they may be sentenced a prison.

How Does Florida Law Define Retail Theft?

Burglary in Florida is defined as entering a dwelling, structure, or a conveyance with the intent to commit an offense therein, unless the premises are at the time open to the public or the defendant is licensed or invited to enter.

F.S. § 810.02(2) indicates that burglary is a felony of the first degree if the offender assaults or batters another person or becomes armed within the dwelling, structure, or conveyance, with explosives or a dangerous weapon.  It can also be a first-degree felony to use a motor vehicle as an instrument to assist in committing the offense and damaging the dwelling or structure or to cause damage in excess of $1,000.00.

BurglaryF.S. § 810.02(3) indicates that burglary is a felony of the second degree if, during the offense, the offender does not assault or batter a person and is not or does not become armed with a dangerous weapon or explosive.  It will also be a second-degree felony if the offender enters or remains in a dwelling and there is or is not another person in the dwelling and the offender enters or remains.

I recently came across a story where a woman was arrested for stealing a car that Florida law recognizes as, in essence, half hers.  After a verbal altercation with her husband, the woman left in the family car, which was registered in her husband’s name.  The husband reported the car stolen.  When the police found the women with the car a few days later, she was arrested for grand theft auto.  Even after she explained that it was her husband’s car that had been purchased during the marriage, and that she was a listed driver on the insurance card, she was still arrested.  If you’re anything like I am, you’re a little bothered to hear this story.  I suppose there is a silver lining here.  The woman reportedly only spent a few days in jail before posting bail, and the case was ultimately dropped.

theftI asked my nine year old son to tell me what he thought theft was.  He said that it’s when you take something without permission.  I then asked if he wasn’t allowed to use his laptop for some reason, but took it anyway, would that be stealing?  He replied, “It’s not stealing if it’s already yours.” From the mouths of babes.  Any Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer could easily tell you that theft takes place when a person knowingly obtains or uses the property of another and intends to permanently or temporarily deprive the person of the use of their own property.  The key phrase is property of another.   Section 61.075, Florida Statute makes property purchased during a marriage, whether solely in the husband’s or wife’s name or jointly, marital property.  This means it belongs to the both parties of the marriage.

If you or a loved one are in need of legal representation, call the experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorneys at the law office of David M. Goldman, PLLC today.  We can help.

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