Articles Posted in Theft Crimes

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Have you been charged with the crime of grand theft of electronics or other depreciating assets?  If so, you may have grounds to have your charges reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, thereby avoiding a felony conviction, prison and/or substantial jail time.  The recent decision from the Florida First District of Appeal in Gallion v. State shows how.

There the State alleged Gallion had stolen two televisions and a stereo from the victim.  At trial, the victim provided a receipt for one of the televisions reflecting it had been purchased for $532.86 the year before Gallion stole it.  The victim provided an additional receipt showing she had purchased the stolen stereo for $699.99.  There was no evidence offered regarding the value of the other television. Except for the two receipts, there was no testimony regarding the condition of the items at the time they were stolen, or how much they may have depreciated in value after they were purchased.  Gallion was convicted of grand theft.  He then appealed.

The appellate court first stated that in a grand theft case, the State must prove the value of the stolen property is greater than $300 pursuant to Florida Statute § 812.014(2)(c)1. (The threshold value for grand theft has since been raised to $750.)  “Value means the market value of the property at the time and place of the offense or, if such cannot be satisfactorily ascertained, the cost of replacement of the property within a reasonable time after the offense.” Id. at § 812.012(10)(a)1. Further, citing to its prior decision in Carter v. State, the court observed “[t]he value of tangible personal property may be proved with evidence of the original purchase price, together with the percentage or amount of depreciation since the property’s purchase, its manner of use, and its condition and quality.”  Critically, the court further noted under Carter the State’s evidence is insufficient where it “elicit[s] no testimony regarding the condition and quality of any of the items taken or their depreciation.” Continue reading

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I recently favorably resolved a petit theft case with a most unusual fact pattern.  I’m discussing it here to highlight how important it is for your criminal defense lawyer to investigate all the facts to get you the best possible result in your case.

The police report stated my client had gone to a beaches area bar, had some drinks and failed to pay for them.  He was then issued a Notice to Appear for the crime of petit theft.  Seems like a cut and dried case, right?  Not so fast!  Rather, as is often the case, the arrest narrative in this matter omitted several facts extremely helpful in defending my client against his charges.

My investigation of the matter revealed critical facts not contained in the Notice to Appear narrative. To begin with, the day of his arrest, my client was first contacted via text message by a friend who stated he would pay for drinks that night if my client would go out.  My client happily accepted the offer in a reply text message.  What initially looked like the beginning of a fun evening for my client ended with him needing a criminal defense lawyer.  Continue reading

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