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Resisting Recovery of Stolen Property

When an alleged offender is suspected of committing a theft crime, the merchant, an employee, or a law enforcement officer is allowed to make a reasonable effort to recover that property. If the alleged offender resists the efforts, that individual can be charged not only with the underlying theft offense but also Resisting Recovery of Stolen Property.

A person who is charged with a theft offense and Resisting Recovery of Stolen Property can be tried for both offenses concurrently. Prosecutors will typically seek maximum punishments in such cases because the alleged offenders are not only accused of having committed a criminal offense but also having committed an obstruction of justice.

Lawyer for Resisting Recovery of Stolen Property in St. Petersburg, FL

If you were arrested in the Tampa Bay area for an alleged theft offense as well as Resisting Recovery of Stolen Property, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. The Morris Law Firm, P.A. represents clients throughout Pinellas County, including Clearwater, Largo, Pinellas Park, Dunedin, and other surrounding areas.

St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney Melinda Morris has experience handling Resisting Recovery of Stolen Property cases on both sides of the aisle as a former prosecutor for the State Attorney’s Office in Pinellas County. The attorneys at the Morris Law Firm can provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call (727) 388-4736 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.


Florida Resisting Recovery of Stolen Property Information Center


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Legal Definitions for Resisting Recovery of Stolen Property Laws

The Florida statutes use multiple terms that could have a different colloquial meaning than when it’s used in the courts. These legal definitions can be found under Florida Statute Section 812.015 and have been defined below for clarity.

  • Theft – Stealing under Florida law may have a different definition than you may think. Under Florida law it’s illegal to knowingly or unlawfully obtain or use or endeavor to obtain or use property of another with intent to deprive the original owner of their right to their property or the property’s benefits either temporarily or indefinitely.
  • Property – Anything of value can be defined as property including livestock, jewelry, motor vehicles, technology, and other personal belongings or land.
  • Merchant – An owner, operator, agent, lessee, consignee, employee, or officer of an owner or operator, of any property used for retailing purchasing or for sale of merchandise.

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Resisting Recovery of Stolen Property Charges in Pinellas County

When a person has been accused of committing a theft offense in Florida, the prosecutor will need to prove the following five elements beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict that alleged offender of resisting recovery of stolen property:

  • The alleged offender was committing or had committed a theft of property from the owner or custodian of the property;
  • During or after the theft, the alleged victim made a reasonable effort to recover the property;
  • The alleged offender resisted the alleged victim’s effort to recover the property;
  • At the time of the alleged offender’s resistance, the alleged victim had probable cause to believe the alleged offender had concealed or removed the property from its place of display or place where the property had been kept; and
  • At the time of the resistance, the alleged victim was a merchant, merchant’s employee, or law enforcement officer.

It is important to note that the term probable cause does not mean more likely true than false. Instead, probable cause is defined as “a practical, common sense determination, given the totality of circumstances, including a person’s knowledge, training and experience, as to whether there was a fair probability for a person to believe a certain fact is true.”


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Resisting Recovery of Stolen Property Penalties in St. Petersburg

Under Florida Statute § 812.015(6), resisting recovery of stolen property is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Alleged offenders in these cases can also be subject to the consequences of being convicted of the underlying theft offenses, which are typically classified as follows, depending on the value of the property involved:

  • Less Than $100 — Second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500;
  • $100 or More, But Less Than $300 — First-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000;
  • $300 or More, But Less Than $20,000 — Third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000;
  • $20,000 or More, But Less Than $100,000 — Second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000; or
  • $100,000 or More — First-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Theft offenses become third-degree felony offenses under Florida Statute § 812.015(8) if the value of the property is $300 or more and the alleged offender:

  • Individually, or in concert with one or more other persons, coordinates the activities of one or more individuals in committing the offense, in which case the amount of each individual theft is aggregated to determine the value of the property stolen;
  • Commits theft from more than one location within a 48-hour period, in which case the amount of each individual theft is aggregated to determine the value of the property stolen;
  • Acts in concert with one or more other individuals within one or more establishments to distract the merchant, merchant’s employee, or law enforcement officer in order to carry out the offense, or acts in other ways to coordinate efforts to carry out the offense; or
  • Commits the offense through the purchase of merchandise in a package or box that contains merchandise other than, or in addition to, the merchandise purported to be contained in the package or box.

Theft is a second-degree felony if the alleged offender commits any of the violations listed above and has previously been convicted of one of those violations, or is the alleged offender individually, or in concert with one or more other persons, coordinates the activities of one or more persons in committing the offense of retail theft where the stolen property has a value in excess of $3,000.


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What’s the Difference Between Theft and Resisting Recovery of Stolen Property?

Many are surprised to be charged with resisting recovery of stolen property rather than theft after they were caught stealing. That is because there are some significant differences between the crime of theft and resisting recovery of stolen property. Theft is when a person intentionally takes or attempts to steal another’s property with the intent to deprive them of it.

Resisting recovery of stolen property, on the other hand, doesn’t just include stealing items, services or property with the intent to deprive. To be charged with resisting recovery of stolen property, the defendant must have resisted the alleged victim’s attempt to reclaim the property. The victim must also have probable cause to believe the defendant had taken or removed property in the first place. So, a charge for resisting recovery of stolen property includes both the element of stealing and the attempt to resist. That differs from theft as the defendant must have attempted to fight off the alleged victim in some way to be charged.


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Possible Defenses for Resisting Recovery of Stolen Property

A skilled and experienced attorney can utilize various methods to build a strong defense against charges for resisting recovery of stolen property. One of these includes using the affirmative defense which claims the defendant had no reason to know that the victim was a merchant, merchant’s employee, or law enforcement officer. Because they had no idea who the victim was and the reason for their attempt to stop them, the defendant would not have “resisted” in a manner consistent with the statute.

The burden of proof for this defense is on you as the defendant and your attorney. Your legal representation will have to provide evidence demonstrating why you didn’t know the victim was a merchant, merchant’s employee, or law enforcement officer. Your attorney can do this by suppressing evidence, bringing in witnesses and experts, and dissecting any other surveillance or body cam footage.


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Theft and Property Crime Rates During COVID-19

Floridians and every other Americans had their lives changed significantly after it was declared by the Word Health Organization that we were in the middle of a pandemic. Now businesses and organizations have shut down in an attempt to stop the spread. The virus’s long reaching effects have even crossed over into theft and property crimes.

The following is some statistics and data collected from multiple sources on how COVID-19 has affected property and theft crimes.

  • A preliminary FBI report detailed that burglaries are down by nearly 8 %. However some cities such as San Francisco and Seattle have seen drastic increases.
  • The report also stated that there was an 8 % decrease in property crimes around the U.S. between the months of January and June 2020.
  • Car thefts and breaking into vehicles have been on the rise and a report by the FBI details that with a 6 % climb in vehicle thefts between January and June 2020.
  • Larceny as a whole has dropped by nearly 10 % from January to June 2020

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Florida Resources for Resisting Recovery of Stolen Property

File a Police Report | St. Petersburg Police Department — On this section of the St. Petersburg Police Department’s website, you can file a police report for theft, vehicle burglary, lost property, or other offenses. All reports filed here are reviewed by law enforcement personnel and users are then notified by email with permanent case numbers. People who have had their property stolen should also visit the Florida Crime Information Center website of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), which allows people to conduct searches and enter serial numbers into a database used by law enforcement agencies throughout the state.

St. Petersburg Police Department
1300 First Ave. N.
St. Petersburg, FL 33705
(727) 893-7780

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Resisting Recovery of Stolen Property Attorney in St. Petersburg

Melinda Morris and Seth Shapiro are criminal defense lawyers in St. Petersburg who defend clients throughout Hillsborough County, Manatee County, Sarasota County, Pasco County, and Pinellas County.

Call (727) 388-4736 or fill out an online contact form to set up a free initial consultation that will allow our attorneys to review your case and answer all of your legal questions.


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