According to Florida law, it is a criminal offense for a person to traffic, or endeavor to traffic, stolen property. This includes property that they knew was stolen or should have reasonably known was stolen. This offense is classed as a second-degree felony punishable by harsh penalties, including up to 15 in prison if you are convicted.
Here at The Law Place, we understand that you may have a valid defense or may even have been wrongly accused of this offense, and our team of experienced criminal defense attorneys can help.
If you have been arrested for or are under suspicion of dealing in stolen property in Tampa, Florida, you will be set to face an aggressive prosecution. So, it is in your best interest to seek legal representation straight away. Our criminal defense team at The Law Place has a combined experience of 75 years. We work tirelessly to defend our clients’ rights when they have been accused of serious crimes, such as this, and can fight for the best possible outcome for you.
For a free consultation, call us today at (941) 444-4444. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
How the Crime of Dealing in Stolen Property is Defined Under Florida Law
The definition of this crime can be found under Florida Statute 812.019. It states that any person who sells, transfers, distributes, or disposes of stolen property, knowing that it was stolen (or where they should have known it was stolen), is committing a criminal offense.
To establish that a defendant is guilty of the crime of dealing in stolen property beyond a reasonable doubt, the prosecution must prove the following elements at the criminal trial.
- The defendant trafficked the alleged property or endeavored to traffic the alleged property.
- The defendant was aware or should have been aware that the property was stolen.
For a free legal consultation with a dealing in stolen property lawyer serving Tampa, call 941-444-4444
Important Terms Within Florida Statute 812.019
- “Property” – This refers to anything that is of value. It includes actual property (anything growing on, found on, and fixed to land), and intangible or tangible property such as privileges, rights, claims, and services.
- “Stolen property” – This refers to any property that has been wrongfully, criminally, taken, and any property that was offered for sale to the defendant that was clearly and openly stolen.
- “Traffic” or “trafficking” – This refers to any property that has been sold, transferred, dispensed, dispatched, or disposed of by the defendant. It also refers to the buying, selling, possessing, receiving, use of, or obtaining control of the property with the intent to sell, transfer, dispense, dispatch, or dispose of it.
If you simply purchased the stolen property and had no intention to sell it, you will not be found guilty under this statute because as does not constitute dealing in stolen property. However, you may face charges of petit or grand theft.
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The Penalties for Dealing in Stolen Property in Tampa, Florida
Most people in Tampa, FL., are not aware of the serious consequences of this crime. According to Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code, the offense of dealing property that was acquired as a result of theft is classed as a second-degree felony and assigned as a level five offense in severity ranking
If you are successfully convicted of dealing in stolen property in Tampa, FL., a judge can impose any one, or a combination of, the following penalties:
- Up to 15 years in prison.
- Up to 15 years of probation.
- A fine of up to $10,000.
- An adjudication of guilt on your record that cannot be expunged.
This crime can be upgraded to a first-degree felony if the defendant is proven to have initiated, organized, planned, financed, managed, or supervised the theft, and then trafficked the stolen property. A first-degree felony is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
The court is very likely to increase the penalty if you are shown to be a habitual offender. Florida Statute 775.084 states that the court has the liberty to increase a sentence if you have been previously convicted of dealing in stolen property or theft of property.
Inferences of Knowledge
Proof of knowledge in dealing with stolen property cases is a required element to establish the accused person’s guilt. However, certain facts surrounding the case can give rise to an inference of knowledge under Florida Statute 812.022. For example:
- Possession of recently stolen property – Under Florida Statute 812.022, if there is proof that you are in possession of the stolen property, this is enough to give rise to an inference of the knowledge that the property was stolen.
- Purchase of goods below fair market value – If there is proof that the defendant purchased the stolen property substantially below the current market value, unless they can explain why they were able to acquire it at this price, it gives rise to an inference of knowledge.
- Unusual sale – Where there is proof that the defendant purchased the stolen property from a dealer who was not in the regular course of business or without indication of legal ownership. Unless sufficiently explained, this gives rise to an inference of knowledge.
- Ignoring owner’s name – If there is proof that a dealer who habitually deals in used property is in possession of the stolen property, upon which the name and phone number of a person other than those offering the property are conspicuously displayed, this gives rise to an inference of knowledge, unless this can be reasonably explained.
- Ignition bypass on a vehicle – In the case of a stolen motor vehicle, proof that the ignition mechanism had been bypassed or the steering wheel locking system had been broken or bypassed gives rise to an inference of knowledge that the motor vehicle was acquired through theft.
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Defenses to Your Dealing in Stolen Property Charge
You could avoid being convicted of this charge if you can offer a satisfactory explanation as to how you came to acquire the stolen property, and how you did not know that the property was stolen. If you can provide this, your charges could even be dropped. Although this sounds simple, to successfully have your charges reduced or dismissed, you will need to appoint an attorney to defend you.
There are several options available to you when it comes to a legal defense. A prosecutor will suggest that the defendant should have known the property was stolen. But, for example, if you purchased a car for a lower price from a trusted friend, you would have no reason to suspect that property theft took place.
Some of the most common defenses available in a case such as this are:
- Complete lack of knowledge that the property had been previously stolen.
- You were pawning the property at the request of someone else, without knowing where it had been obtained.
- The property was not trafficked as defined in Florida Statute 812.019.
- The property was not stolen.
- A mistaken belief as to your right to dispose of the stolen property.
- Sufficient arguments against any inferences of knowledge put forward by the prosecution.
- The mistaken belief that the property was gifted or abandoned.
- Mistaken identity with regards to the property’s ownership.
- False claims from the alleged victim with regards to ownership.
- Lack of evidence that the property is stolen.
Ultimately, a Tampa criminal defense attorney will look for any weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case. With the help of a skilled defense lawyer from our law firm, the best defense can be put forward for you.
Statute of Limitations in a Dealing in Stolen Property Case
According to Florida Statute 812.035, a statute of limitations of five years applies to this crime. Therefore, you can be convicted of this crime as many as five years after you supposedly committed it. Under certain circumstances, this can be extended. Therefore, you can not assume that you will not face serious charges just because the alleged crime took place some time ago.
How Soon Should You Hire an Attorney?
In any criminal case, the answer to this question is always simple; the sooner you hire an attorney, the better your chance of a positive outcome will be.
Many defendants assume they can talk their way out of their charges, when in fact, that often makes things worse for themselves. You have the right to request a lawyer from the very beginning and do not have to answer law enforcement questions before you have one.
The right attorney will begin collecting evidence before it gets lost or destroyed and can begin requesting and reviewing any police reports, as well as researching case statues and precedents. They can prepare to examine witnesses at any hearings and trials and put together a comprehensive defense to the judge and jury. The sooner they can get started on this, the better!
You will do yourself an injustice by wasting any time seeking legal representation, so don’t hesitate to call The Law Place today!
Contact The Law Place Today
The charge of dealing in stolen property in Tampa is very defendable, but only with the help of a skilled criminal defense team. You would be foolish to attempt to resolve your case alone, without the help of an experienced attorney who is highly versed in the law surrounding these charges. Even if you honestly did not know that the property was stolen, you will still need the best support available, or risk facing the very real threat of 15 years in jail.
Our law firm is always committed to its clients from the very beginning and can offer an attorney-client relationship that is built on trust. We can put forward a comprehensive defense for any person who has found themselves facing serious felony charges in Tampa.
The Law Place is no ordinary law practice. Our defense attorneys work as a team, meaning you benefit from their combined experience and wealth of knowledge. We understand that you may be feeling very anxious at the thought of a criminal trial, so don’t waste any time. Call The Law Place today at (941) 444-4444 for a free consultation with a defense attorney.