SARASOTA DEALING IN STOLEN PROPERTY
Dealing in stolen property is considered a very serious offense in Florida. It is a second-degree felony which puts the offender at risk of a lengthy prison sentence.
Dealing in stolen property essentially involves two elements, or things the prosecutor must prove:
The defendant sold, transferred, or distributed stolen property
The defendant had knowledge that the property was stolen
Dealing in Stolen Property is a serious offense in Florida
One of the fastest ways for someone with little criminal history to go to prison, in my experience, is to accept a probation offer on a dealing in stolen property case and then to later violate probation.
This is because dealing in stolen property is a level 5 offense which, on its own, scores 28 points on the Florida scoresheet. If there is later a violation of probation for new charges, the defendant can easily score over 44 points, which means that they “score out” to prison.
Defenses to Dealing in Stolen Property in Florida
I didn’t know it was stolen
The state has to prove that the offender had knowledge that the property was stolen. This element can be satisfied if the state can prove that the person actually was the one who stole the property. It can also be proven if the person makes admissions or statements indicating they were aware that the property was stolen.
In some cases, proof of possession of property recently stolen, unless satisfactorily explained, gives rise to an inference that the person in possession of the property knew or should have known that the property had been stolen. For example, if the property was sold or pawned within a short period of time after it was reported stolen, a jury can be told that they can assume the defendant knew the property was stolen.
Give a “satisfactory explanation”
As stated above, it is not a crime if you sell something that was stolen, if you did not know it was stolen. In some cases, if the defendant provides a sufficient and satisfactory explanation as to how they came into possession of the property, it can serve as a defense to the charge.
Caution: If you have been charged with dealing in stolen property, be sure to speak to a criminal defense attorney before making any statements whatsoever. Statements can be misconstrued or completely twisted and taken out of context. Do not try to handle it alone. If you have a satisfactory explanation defense, it is best to have an attorney review your statement in advance and/or be present with you if you decide to make a statement to law enforcement.
It was my property
This defense typically comes in to play among family members, former roommates, and former friends. It usually goes something like this: “my mom/roommate/friend gave the thing to me, it was mine, and I decided to pawn it. Now my mom/roommate/friend is mad at me and is saying that I stole it.
Double Jeopardy can prevent a person of being convicted of both Theft and Dealing in Stolen Property.
Prosecutors in Florida sometimes charge both theft and dealing in stolen property at the same time, in the same information, knowing that it is against the law for the defendant to be convicted of both.
Florida law 812.025 prohibits a defendant from being found guilty of both dealing in stolen property and theft if the property was taken in connection with one scheme or course of conduct. If you have been charged with both crimes out of one incident, do not just take a plea, be sure to have your case reviewed by an experienced criminal defense attorney.