If you steal cash or goods from an individual or retailer in Florida, you may be charged with theft. In the event that you’re convicted of the crime, you may spend time in jail, pay a fine or face other penalties. Let’s take a look at the elements of the crime and how you may defend against the charge in court.
The elements of theft
A prosecutor will need to prove that you knowingly took property that did not belong to you. Furthermore, it will need to be shown that you deprived the rightful owner of that property of the ability to use or otherwise benefit from it on a temporary or permanent basis. You may also be guilty of theft if you gave the stolen property to someone else to deprive the rightful owner of the ability to use it.
Determining the severity of the crime
The types of penalties that you’ll face if convicted depend mostly on the value of the goods that were stolen. For example, if you steal goods worth less than $100, you’ll be charged with petty theft and could spend up to 60 days in jail. However, if you steal goods worth more than $100,000, you could spend up to 30 years in jail and pay a fine of up to $10,000.
Possible defenses against the charge
There are several criminal defense strategies that may be useful in a theft case. For instance, you may be able to claim that you did not need to steal an item because you already had permission to use it. It may also be possible to claim that there was reason to believe that you owned the item in question.
If you are convicted of a crime, you may struggle to find or retain employment or have difficulty finding a place to live. It may also be impossible to obtain student loans, own a gun or carry out other activities because of the presence of a criminal record.