Articles Posted in Robbery / Theft

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).

            The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States provides that:

            In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

            The Constitution does not define what a speedy trial means.  There is a Speedy Trial Act governing federal criminal charges and in Florida state trials there is a criminal rule of procedure that addresses speedy trial.  The Florida rule provides for Speedy Trial without Demand which requires defendants to be brought to trial within 90 days from the arrest on a misdemeanor, or 175 days from the arrest for a felony.  There is also a provision for Speedy Trial Upon Demand this provides that every person charged with a crime by indictment or information shall have the right to demand a trial within 60 days by filing a pleading entitled “Demand for Speedy Trial”.  These provisions can be found in Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 3.191.

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.

The majority of criminal cases in Florida get resolved by plea agreements.  In the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 3.171 governs plea agreements.  The prosecutor has broad discretion in plea agreements.  The prosecutor may engage in discussions with the defendant’s attorney or, if the defendant is unrepresented, with the defendant himself as long as a record is made of the discussions.

question criminal issueThe prosecutor may ask the defendant to enter a plea of guilty or no contest (nolo contendere) to a charged crime or to a lesser or related offense in exchange for the prosecutor agreeing to any of the following:

1)  abandon other charges;

The second amendment is a staple in American constitutional law.  Gun rights lawyers and other second amendment advocates quote and cite it often.  After America fought and won its independence, our founding fathers knew that an armed militia was important to the survival of the new nation.  Nevertheless, there are those that still are weary of firearms and the destruction they can cause when not properly used or when guns fall into the wrong hands.

Gun3According to Jacksonville.com, a rash of stolen guns from unlocked cars has the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office concerned.  JSO noticed a spike in guns being stolen from cars.  In April, there were 69 guns stolen from cars; 41 of the guns stolen were taken from unlocked cars.  Guns can absolutely be useful for personal protection, but gun owners have a responsibility to keep them away from children and thieves.  Being careless enough to leave a gun in an unlocked car only gives ammunition to those who are adamantly against guns and wish to see more regulation.

Those that are anti-gun, can’t dispute the fact that guns save lives when used properly, just as guns take lives when used irresponsibly.  Take former CNN anchor Lynne Russell and her husband, former CNN reporter, Chuck de Caro for example.  The couple was recently accosted at gun point by a would-be robber when a gun was placed to Mrs. Russell’s stomach, and she was forced into her hotel room.  There was ultimately a shoot out between the would-be robber and de Caro, who was shot three times.  Return fire from de Caro hit and killed the would-be robber.

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