Articles Posted in Theft Crimes

There are numerous statutes and rulings that prevent criminal defendants from unjust convictions. For example, in many cases, a unanimous jury verdict is necessary to convict a person of a crime. When a single offense can be committed through alternative acts, though, unanimity is not necessary, as explained in a recent Florida ruling issued in a petit theft case. If you are accused of theft, it is in your best interest to meet with a Sarasota theft crime defense attorney about your rights.

Case Background

Allegedly, in July 2021, the victim contacted the police to report a break-in at her apartment by the defendant. The two had a prior romantic relationship. The defendant was subsequently arrested and charged with six crimes, including petit theft. The petit theft charge pertained to the defendant allegedly obtaining or using the victim’s purse and/or wallet, intending to deprive her of the property.

Reportedly, during the trial, the victim testified that the defendant forcibly entered her apartment, demanding his phone and wallet. Despite her denial and attempts to show she didn’t possess his belongings, the defendant took her purse, containing the phone, wallet, and medication. The trial court instructed the jury to determine whether the defendant knowingly obtained the victim’s purse or wallet, and the jury found him guilty of petit theft, valuing the stolen property at less than $750. The defendant appealed.

Continue Reading ›

In federal criminal trials, the prosecution bears the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecution can rely on direct or circumstantial evidence to establish its case. Generally, however, it cannot introduce evidence of a defendant’s prior convictions to demonstrate they committed the offense they currently are charged with, as demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling in which the court granted the defendant’s motion in limine to preclude evidence of his prior convictions in a carjacking case. If you are charged with a theft offense, it is wise to meet with a Sarasota criminal defense attorney to discuss what evidence the government may be permitted to use against you.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with brandishing a firearm during a carjacking. Prior to trial, the prosecution indicated that it intended to introduce evidence of the defendant’s three prior convictions: a 2009 conviction for carrying a concealed firearm and possession of other weapons and two convictions from 2018 and 2022 for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The prosecution argued that these prior convictions were admissible in the current case to demonstrate that the defendant’s alleged brandishing of a firearm during the offense was done “knowingly and intentionally” and was not a result of a mistake or accident.

Evidence of Prior Crimes in Florida Criminal Trials

Reportedly, in response, the defendant filed a motion in limine to exclude such evidence on the grounds that it only served to portray the defendant as having a bad character. The defendant noted that in United States v. Gray, a similar case, the district court allowed the introduction of the defendant’s prior convictions for armed carjacking, armed robbery, and car burglary. However, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals found that the district court abused its discretion in admitting the evidence under a “lack-of-accident-or-mistake theory.” Continue Reading ›

The Florida legislature enacted statutory guidelines that the courts use when sentencing people convicted of violating state law. Sentencing courts have discretion, however, and can deliver downward departure sentences if they believe they are warranted under the circumstances. Recently, a Florida court examined when a downward departure sentence is appropriate in a burglary case in which it ultimately reversed a downward departure sentence on the grounds that it was not supported by competent evidence. If you were charged with burglary or any other theft offense, it is wise to talk to a Sarasota theft crime defense attorney about your possible defenses.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that he was charged with grand theft and burglary of an occupied dwelling in 2019 following an incident in which he drove a co-defendant to a residence, waited while the codefendant broke a window and entered the home, and then drove the co-defendant away. They were later stopped with $15,000 worth of jewelry that had been taken from the home.

Reportedly, while the defendant was awaiting trial for the subject charges, he was convicted of other charges of burglary of an unoccupied dwelling and grand theft. The defendant then moved for a downward departure in the subject case, arguing that the offenses were committed in an unsophisticated manner and were isolated incidents. The court granted the defendant’s motion over the State’s objection, and the State appealed.

Continue Reading ›

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered many aspects of criminal cases. For example, many criminal trials were delayed or conducted remotely, and some prisoners were able to obtain compassionate release due to the risk of contracting the coronavirus. As discussed in a recent Florida opinion issued in a theft case, though, COVID-19, in and of itself, is not a sufficient reason to grant a downward departure sentence. If you are accused of a theft offense, it is prudent to meet with a trusted Sarasota theft crime defense attorney to assess your options.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with felony petit theft for taking sunglasses from a store without paying. He failed to appear at a hearing, and the charges against him were amended to include a charge for failure to appear. He was arrested and spent ten months in jail. At a hearing for pretrial release, his attorney requested the lowest permitted sentence of fifty-five months in prison. The State rejected the offer, citing his extensive criminal history.

Reportedly, the trial court asked the state to confirm the lowest permissible sentence, then proposed that if the defendant pled guilty, it would issue a downward departure sentence due to COVID-19. The state objected, but the court sentenced the defendant to two years of probation. The state appealed.

Continue Reading ›

When people suffer personal tragedies, their friends and families will often set up fundraisers to help them deal with the financial ramifications of their losses. What starts as a kind-hearted gesture may lead to criminal charges, though, if the funds collected are not properly disbursed. While numerous charges could potentially arise out of the mishandling of charitable donations, a person cannot be convicted multiple times for the same offense. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling in which the court agreed with the defendant’s assertion that her convictions for fraud and organized scheme to defraud violated her right against double jeopardy.  If you are charged with a fraud offense, it is in your best interest to meet with a skillful Sarasota criminal defense attorney to assess your potential defenses.

The Facts of the Case

Allegedly, the defendant and her husband were struggling financially. Her husband was a firefighter, and after two other firefighters were killed and a third firefighter’s daughter died, the defendant organized a benefit to raise money for the three families. It is estimated that between tickets sold at the door and prior to the benefit, the defendant gathered in excess of $28,000 dollars.

Reportedly,  cash donations were made during the benefit as well. The bulk of the money was never given to the families, however. Eventually, the police investigated the incident and charged the defendant with multiple crimes, including grand theft and an organized scheme to defraud. A jury convicted her, after which she appealed.

Continue Reading ›

In many instances in which a criminal defendant is convicted of a crime, the court will not only sentence the person to jail time or probation but will also order him or her to pay restitution costs. A court may not order restitution without basis, however. Rather, as discussed in a recent Florida theft case, certain factors must be present for a restitution award to be valid. If you are accused of committing a theft crime, it is smart to consult a skillful Sarasota theft crime defense attorney to evaluate your rights.

The Alleged Crime and Restitution Award

It is reported that the defendant was charged with three counts of dealing in stolen property, giving a pawn shop owner false verification of ownership, and other crimes. He entered a guilty plea to all charges. Following his sentencing, he challenged an award of restitution for a stolen diamond bracelet, arguing that as he was not charged with stealing the bracelet and the item was not within the original charge of dealing in stolen property, his guilty plea did not constitute an agreement to pay for it. Upon review, the appellate court affirmed the award.

Grounds for Awarding Restitution Under Florida Law

Under Florida law, if a defendant challenges a restitution award, the court must assess whether the damage or loss the defendant has been ordered to pay for is both causally related to and bears a substantial relationship to the crime. In order for a restitution award to be causally connected to a crime, it must arise out of the crime for which the defendant was actually charged. Additionally, if a defendant agrees to pay restitution as part of a plea agreement, his agreement is limited to restitution for the charged crime, as reflected by the information or the factual basis for the plea that was set forth by the State when the plea was entered.

Continue Reading ›

Contact Information