Florida laws use the legal term “theft” to describe a variety of property crimes, including larceny, stealing, misappropriation, conversion, and other offenses. In general, theft crimes involve the unauthorized taking or use of another person’s property. In a theft case, the prosecutor must prove several elements of the crime.
The Florida legislature has enacted varying degrees of theft charges with different maximum penalties. Any theft charge, from misdemeanor shoplifting to a felony grand theft, is considered “a crime of dishonesty.” A conviction for any crime of dishonesty can be used against you when you apply for a job, during a background check, or if you ever testify in a court of law.
Under the Florida Fingerprint Requirement, anyone found guilty of theft (even petit theft or shoplifting) is required to have their fingerprints taken in court. The judge is required to affix a written judgment to the file which then becomes a public record. Even if you are not convicted, your name can go into a national database used by employers when they conduct background checks. Additionally, prior convictions for theft crimes can increase the sentence if you are caught re-offending. In certain types of cases, any subsequent charges can be enhanced based on a prior conviction.
False accusations for theft offenses can occur for numerous reasons. If you have been falsely accused of any theft offense, you should act quickly to have an attorney address the issue before a filing decision is made by the State Attorney’s Office.
For instance, in rare cases, a shoplifting charge can result from an accidental taking when the person became distracted. Even in those rare cases in which the law enforcement officer believes that the shopper took the item by mistake, the officer will usually go ahead with making the arrest. An attorney can best present your side of the story to law enforcement, the alleged victim, and the state attorney’s office in an attempt to convince them not to go forward with a prosecution even days after the incident.
In other cases, theft or shoplifting is a symptom of an underlying psychological problem that can best be addressed outside of the criminal justice system. By being proactive in seeking counseling, you may be able to show the court, prosecutor, and alleged victim that you do not deserve a criminal record or a jail sentence. Contact an experienced theft attorney early in your case so that you can discuss ways to address the behavior that led to the criminal accusation.
Theft charges can include:
If you have been arrested for a theft crime in the Miami-Dade area, including Broward County, Palm Beach County, or Monroe County, then contact the Criminal Defense Center, P.A. at 305-567-1011 for a FREE Consultation. By focusing on criminal defense and theft crimes, we pay particular attention to recent changes in the law and unique arguments that apply to these types of cases.