Dealing in Stolen Property
It is illegal under Florida law for any person to traffic in or endeavors to traffic in property that he or she knows or should know was stolen. For the purposes of these types of crimes listed under Chapter 812 of the Florida Statutes, the term traffic means to sell, transfer, distribute, dispense, or otherwise dispose of property, or to buy, receive, possess, obtain control of, or use property with the intent to sell, transfer, distribute, dispense, or otherwise dispose of such property.
The specific crime of dealing in stolen property is a felony offense in Florida—regardless of the value of the property that is involved. This means the grade of the crime is the same whether an alleged offender is charged with attempting to traffic a pack of gum that cost 50 cents or a sports car worth $50,000.
St. Petersburg Dealing in Stolen Property Lawyer
Are you being investigated for or have you already been charged with allegedly dealing property that authorities claim you should have known was stolen. Make sure that you have legal counsel before making any kind of statement.
Our Pinellas County dealing with stolen property attorneys at Morris Law Firm, P.A. aggressively defend clients in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Tampa, and other nearby areas in Florida. We can review your case as soon as you call (727) 388-4736 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
Florida Dealing in Stolen Property Overview
- What are the different charges a person can face in relation to this crime?
- How can the state prove that somebody knew the property was stolen?
- Are there any defenses against these criminal charges?
People are often charged with this crime after conducting or attempting to conduct transactions at local pawn shops or flea markets. Under Florida Statute § 812.019, there are two different grades of this criminal offense:
- If the alleged offender traffics in, or endeavors to traffic in, property that he or she knows or should know was stolen, this is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000; or
- If the alleged offender initiates, organizes, plans, finances, directs, manages, or supervises the theft of property and traffics in such stolen property, this is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
In addition to the offenses listed above, certain alleged offenders could face an additional criminal charge under Florida Statute § 539.001 (8)(b)8.a. if they receive money from a pawnbroker for goods sold and knowingly give false verification of ownership or a false or altered identification for the goods sold or pledged. Unlike the dealing in stolen property charge, the value of the property sold does impact the grade of the criminal offense.
If the alleged offender knowingly gives false verification of ownership or gives a false or altered identification and receives money from a pawnbroker for stolen property in which the value of the money received is:
- Less than $300, this is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000; or
- $300 or more, this is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
There are additional Florida laws that address stolen property which is sold through online resources such as auctions or advertisements. In these types of cases, an alleged offender can be charged with dealing in stolen property by use of the Internet under Florida Statute § 812.0195.
A person who alleged uses the internet to sell or offer for sale any merchandise or other property that he or she knows or has reasonable cause to believe is stolen will be charged with a:
- Second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500 if the value of the property is less than $300; or
- Third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000 if the value of the property is $300 or more.
One of the critical aspects that a prosecutor must prove in these types of cases is that an alleged offender attempted to traffic in property he or she knew or should have known was stolen. Generally, that type of knowledge can be very difficult to prove in a court of law, but Florida Statute § 812.022 establishes several scenarios that can give rise to an inference of such knowledge.
These scenarios include:
- Proof of possession of property recently stolen without satisfactory explanation;
- Proof of the purchase or sale of stolen property at a price substantially below the fair market value without satisfactory explanation;
- Proof of the purchase or sale of stolen property by a dealer in property, out of the regular course of business or without the usual indicia of ownership other than mere possession, without satisfactory explanation;
- Proof that a dealer who regularly deals in used property possesses stolen property upon which a name and phone number of a person other than the offeror of the property are conspicuously displayed; or
- Proof that a person was in possession of a stolen motor vehicle and that the ignition mechanism of the motor vehicle had been bypassed or the steering wheel locking mechanism had been broken or bypassed without satisfactory explanation.
These can be difficult criminal charges to prove, but many alleged offenders, unfortunately, make it harder on themselves by attempting to offer explanations to police that are later used against them. Anybody who has been arrested for this alleged offense should absolutely refrain from making any sort of statement to law enforcement without a lawyer.
Melinda Morris has both prosecuted and defended scores of these types of cases, and she knows which types of evidence can be used to get criminal charges dismissed. Some possible defenses in these cases may include, but are not limited to:
- Alleged victim was not lawful owner;
- Insufficient evidence property was stolen;
- Legitimate ownership claim to property;
- No knowledge that property was stolen;
- Police misidentification of allegedly stolen property; or
- Property was being sold, transferred, distributed, dispensed, or otherwise disposed of at request of another person whom the alleged offender reasonably believed to be the lawful owner.
Find a Dealing in Stolen Property Lawyer in St. Petersburg
If you believe that you are under investigation or have already been arrested for allegedly trafficking stolen property, you should not delay in obtaining legal representation. Morris Law Firm, P.A. works to achieve the most favorable outcomes to these types of cases for clients in Hillsborough County, Manatee County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, and Sarasota County.
Our firm will conduct its own thorough investigation of these charges and develop the strongest possible defense that attacks any and all weakness in the prosecution’s case. Call (727) 388-4736 right now to take advantage of a free, confidential consultation that will let our Pinellas County dealing with stolen property attorneys provide a complete evaluation of your case.