Theft Crime Attorney in Fort Myers
Are you facing theft charges in Fort Myers, FL?
By definition, theft is any crime that is committed against the property of another. Typically, crimes of this nature refer to the physical taking of property from a person who has not issued consent to do so; however, the general intent behind a crime of theft is much broader in scope and can include a number of different types of property offenses. Therefore, the best way to ensure that the right defense is built against the theft crime allegations that you are facing, a Fort Myers criminal defense lawyer from Brian L. Edwards, Esq. should be contacted immediately.
Dissecting the Elements of a Theft Crime
In order for a criminal offense to be categorized as a theft crime, two crucial elements must exist:
- Property that belongs to another must have been taken
- An intent to permanently deprive the victim of their personal property must exist
Only if both of these elements can be unequivocally proven can an allegation of theft be convicted as such. Therefore, it is up to the criminal defense attorney who is representing your case to further pursue every aspect of the events which led up to an arrest for a theft offense. When either one of these two elements can be disproven by an attorney, the allegations that were made cannot hold up in court, thus disavowing the need from criminal prosecution.
It can be difficult to prove that a specific intent preceded the actions of a theft crime; however, it can be equally difficult to disprove intent. For this reason, the defense that is built on behalf of your case needs to reflect a solid challenge to the accusation that the defendant's intent was meant to be felt permanently. Common methods of defense for these types of cases can include claims that the property was being borrowed, rather than stolen, or that there was a misunderstanding regarding to whom the property originally belonged.
Other elements that will be investigated during a theft crime investigation are the type of property that was stolen, as well as the amount of worth attributed to the items that were taken. Regardless of these factors however, the element of intent will always be analyzed the most heavily, so a strong defense should always focus on this aspect first and foremost. Whether the defendant is facing charges for petty theft or grand theft, the heart of the defense that is built needs to address the issue of intent. If the element of intent can be solidly disproven, the likelihood of a successful outcome to the case can be significantly stronger.
Petty Theft vs. Grand Theft
In the state of Florida, theft crimes are categorized by the degree of their nature. Theft crimes that are classified on the softer end of the spectrum are referred to as petty theft crimes, whereas those that are particularly serious in nature will be referred to as grand theft crimes. The degrees by which a crime is measured focus on the type and worth of the property stolen. Specifically, each of theft offense is categorized according to the following criteria:
Petty Theft: also referred to as "petit theft," these offenses pertain only to stolen property that amounts to $300 or less in worth. Crimes of petit theft can be charged to the first or second degree depending on the severity of the activity. Persons who are found guilty of petit theft will suffer from license suspension (a six-month suspension for first-time offenders, and an additional year of suspension for each subsequent offense).
- Petit Theft of the First Degree: Persons who are charged with a first degree petit theft crime are those who have been accused of stealing property that is worth more than $100 but less than $300. Penalties for petit theft to the first degree can result in up to a year of imprisonment, a year of probation, and a $1,000 fine.
- Petit Theft of the Second Degree: Persons who are charged with a second degree petit theft crime are those who have been accused of stealing property that is worth less than $100. Penalties for petit theft to the second degree can include any combination of the following: six months in jail, six months of probation, and as much as a $500 fine.
Grand Theft: grand theft is defined as the unlawful taking of any property that amounts to more than $300 in worth. Crimes of grand theft can be charged to the first, second, or third degree depending on the severity of the activity.
- Grand Theft of the First Degree: Persons who are charged with a first degree grand theft crime are those who have been accused of stealing property that is more than $100,000 or persons who are shipping cargo worth more than $50,000. Penalties for grand theft to the first degree will result in no less than a 21-month prison sentence (with a maximum sentence of 30 years), 30 years of probation, and as much as $10,000 in fines.
- Grand Theft of the Second Degree: Persons who are charged with a second degree grand theft crime are those who have been accused of stealing property that is worth more than $20,000 but less than $100,000 or persons who are shipping cargo worth less than $50,000, or persons who have stolen emergency medical equipment worth more than $300. Penalties for grand theft to the second degree can result in up to 15 years in prison, 15 years of probation, and $10,000 in fines.
Grand Theft of the Third Degree: Persons who are charged with a third degree grand theft crime are those who have been accused of stealing property that is more than $300 but less than $20,000, or persons who have stolen a will or codicil, or persons who have stolen a firearm, or persons who have stolen a motor vehicle. Penalties for grand theft to the third degree can result in up to five years in prison, five years of probation, and a $5,000 fine.
Aggressive Defense with Effective Results
If you've been accused of a theft crime, you should not wait to speak with a qualified attorney. The sooner that you involve a legal professional, the better chances you stand of escaping the full penalties of conviction for your theft crime charges. Whether you are facing petty theft charges or you are facing grand theft charges, Brian L. Edwards, Esq. has the experience and professional means to defend your case in court. We are here for you, so don't wait to contact us today.