It is surprisingly easy in Florida for ordinary residents to find themselves facing charges of dealing in stolen property. In fact, 90% of all dealing in stolen property cases involve individuals who have sold property belonging to their family and friends in pawn shops or online. It is usually the most disadvantaged individuals within the Clearwater community who resort to this crime.
In the State of Florida, it is a criminal offense to traffic or endeavor to traffic stolen property, no matter how much the property is worth. If you are convicted of dealing in stolen property, you will face second-degree felony charges, which are punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
If you have found yourself facing dealing in stolen property charges in Florida, you are probably completely unprepared for the aggressive prosecution that you are about to face. It is important for you to seek adequate legal representation straight away. Our criminal defense lawyers at The Law Place have decades of combined experience. Let them use their knowledge and expertise to fight these charges on your behalf.
You can contact us today at (941) 444-4444. Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
What the Florida Statutes Say About Dealing in Stolen Property
Florida Statute 812.019 defines the crime of dealing in stolen property as the selling, transferring, distributing, or disposing of property, knowing that it is stolen, or property that a person should reasonably know is stolen.
The prosecution in these cases will seek to establish that a defendant is guilty of this crime beyond a reasonable doubt. To achieve this, the following factors must be established:
- The defendant trafficked or endeavored to traffic the property in question.
- The defendant was aware that the property was stolen or, the defendant should have been aware that it was stolen.
Property – The term “property” in this context refers to anything that is of value. This could be actual property (anything growing on, fixed to, and found on land), as well as any tangible or intangible property such as rights, privileges, services, and claims.
Stolen property – The term “stolen property” in this context refers to any property that has been criminally and wrongfully taken. It also refers to any property that was sold to the defendant that was openly stolen.
Traffic or trafficking – The term “traffic” or “trafficking” in this context refers to property that has been transferred, dispensed, sold, dispatched, or even disposed of by the defendant. Additionally, defendants can be convicted if they are found guilty of selling, buying, possessing, receiving, using, or obtaining control of the property with the intent to transfer, sell, dispatch, dispense, or dispose of it.
If you unknowingly purchased the stolen property with no intention to sell it, you will not be convicted under this statute as this does not meet the above criteria. However, you could face charges of petit or grand theft. An experienced lawyer can help you to better understand the charges that you may be facing. Contact us today for a free consultation in Clearwater.
Establishing Inference of Knowledge in a Dealing in Stolen Property Case
In most dealing in stolen property cases, a defendant will deny that they were aware that the property they sold was stolen. But if the prosecutor can give rise to an inference of knowledge, under Florida Statute 812.022, they can be found guilty. For example, defendants can be found guilty of this crime due to:
- An unusual sale – If a defendant purchased the stolen property from a dealer who was not in the regular course of business or without indication of legal ownership, this would be considered to be an unusual sale. This gives rise to an inference of knowledge unless it can be sufficiently explained.
- Ignoring owner’s name – If a dealer who regularly deals in used property is in possession of the stolen property, and the name and phone number of a person other than those offering the property are clearly shown, this gives rise to an inference of knowledge, unless this can be sufficiently explained.
- The possession of the recently stolen property – If a person is in possession of the recently stolen property, this alone is enough to give rise to an inference of the knowledge that the property was stolen.
- The purchase of goods below fair market value – If a defendant purchased stolen property considerably below market value, this gives rise to an inference of knowledge.
- Ignition bypass on a vehicle – Evidence that the ignition mechanism or the steering wheel locking system is broken or has been bypassed on a vehicle gives rise to an inference of knowledge that it was acquired by theft.
The Penalties Associated With Dealing in Stolen Property
Most of the residents of Clearwater, FL., are not aware of how easy it is to get caught up in a situation that could result in them facing charges of dealing in stolen property and other similar offenses. They may also not be aware of how serious the consequences of the charges would be. Those convicted of this crime could face second-degree felony charges. According to Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code, this is ranked as a level 5 offense.
If you are successfully convicted of this crime, the penalties that you could face include:
- A maximum of fifteen years in prison.
- A maximum of fifteen years of probation.
- A maximum fine of up to $10,000.
Under certain circumstances, charges can be elevated to a first-degree felony. For example, if a defendant is shown to have organized, initiated, financed, planned, supervised, or managed the alleged theft and proceeded to traffic the stolen property, the crime is considered to be even more serious. Those convicted of a felony of the first-degree could face a fine of up to $10,000 as many as 30 years in prison.
A judge can impose more serious penalties for a person who has committed multiple theft offenses. Florida Statute 775.084 states that the court may increase a sentence if a person has been previously convicted of dealing in stolen property or grand theft.
Defenses in Dealing in Stolen Property Cases
With the help of the right attorney, a defendant may be able to avoid conviction in Clearwater. In general, a person cannot be convicted of this crime if they have a reasonable explanation. Some of the most common defenses available in a case such as this are:
- The property was not stolen, and the defendant had legal ownership.
- The complete lack of knowledge that the property was stolen.
- The defendant was pawning the property for someone else, without knowledge of where it had been acquired.
- The property was not trafficked according to Florida Statute 812.019.
- The defendant believed that they had the right to dispose of the stolen property.
- A sufficient explanation as to why any inferences of knowledge cannot be established.
- The defendant believed that the property was abandoned.
- The defendant believed that the property had been gifted to them.
- There is an obvious case of mistaken identity regarding the property’s ownership.
- The alleged victim has wrongly claimed ownership.
- There is a considerable lack of evidence that the property is stolen.
A Clearwater criminal defense attorney will put forward the best defense for you and will find any weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case. With the help of a skilled defense lawyer from our law firm, your felony charges could be dropped altogether.
Statute of Limitations in a Clearwater Dealing in Stolen Property Case
A statute of limitations of five years applies to this crime, according to Florida Statute 812.035. Therefore, you cannot usually be convicted of this crime once five years had passed from when you allegedly committed it. However, under certain circumstances, this period can be extended, and you could still face serious charges even if a considerable amount of time has passed.
What Will Happen If I Am Arrested for Dealing in Stolen Property?
If the unthinkable happens and you are arrested for this crime, you will be taken to a Florida jail and will likely be given a bond that you can post to get out. You can hire a bondsman to do this or post the bond yourself. Next, you will face an arraignment, at which you can plead guilty or not guilty. This is where hiring a lawyer can make your life much easier because they can enter your plea on your behalf, and you do not have to attend the arraignment yourself. Your lawyer will then gather all the evidence that the state has against you and establish whether you have a reasonable defense against the charges. If your defense is strong enough, your lawyer could successfully succeed in having your charges dropped. If your defense is not considered to be satisfactory, you are then given the right to a jury trial. An experienced lawyer can then convince the jury that you are not guilty of the crime you have been accused of and seek to have your charges reduced to a misdemeanor or have them dropped completely. Contact us today for more information.
Contact The Law Place Today
The charge of dealing in stolen property in Clearwater is a very serious crime that requires experienced legal assistance. The only way you can successfully defend yourself is with the help of a skilled criminal defense team. We strongly advise that you do not attempt to resolve your case alone, even if you honestly did not know that the property was stolen. Contact us today and allow our experienced team of lawyers to put forward a comprehensive defense on your behalf and fight to have you acquitted of your charges
At our prestigious law firm, we pride ourselves on the ability to establish an attorney-client relationship build on trust and understanding. Contact us today at (941) 444-4444 for a free consultation with a defense attorney.