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