Every criminal law attorney at The Mayberry Law Firm has experience defending those accused of stealing funds or property valued at $750 or more. Grand theft, though it varies in degrees of severity, is defined in layman’s terms as the taking of something from someone, without their permission, valued at $750 or more. The Florida grand theft statute also carves out space when the subject of the theft is an automobile, other specific property taken, if damage occurs during the act of theft, amongst other specific factual scenarios that could give rise to a more pronounced potential penalty.
Over the course of my career, theft charges tend to be underappreciated by our clients more than any other charge. They are not violent, rarely provide for a prospect of physical damage to another, and while looked on with disdain by society, it is not to the level of a sex offense or murder charge. I can not impress upon my clients and potential clients enough, you MUST take grand theft charges seriously, not only for the direct possible penalties but just as importantly, the collateral penalty of a possible conviction. The lawyers at our firm are serious about handling these cases from the moment we meet clients in the office. Our attorneys will begin investigating the allegations against you to ensure that every possible defense available is considered. To do this, our attorneys look at the facts associated with each allegation and evaluate the circumstances of your case to determine whether it has jury appeal or if it there are facts our defense relies on that would be unsuccessful at trial. During this case evaluation, we will advise you on anything you can do to show a good faith effort to both the State Attorney’s Office and the Judge, should your case be better fit for mitigation. Based on our experience handling these cases, a good faith effort can help to avoid a conviction of a felony crime of dishonesty. We will leave no stone unturned when reviewing your case. As charges of this nature carry a “double whammy” in that they are both a felony and a crime of dishonesty, so like a surgeon we must balance the amount of pressure we apply with the proper amount of judiciousness to ensure that when the dust settles, you are not a convicted felon.
Every criminal case, in order to be proven, requires the State Attorney to prove what are called “elements” of the crime. Many seasoned lawyers, much less an individual without legal training, sometimes struggle to really understand what actually has to be proven against you in order for a jury to convict. For that reason, rather than recite the verbatim jury instruction, our firm prefers to explain the issue of proof in terms we believe all can understand. In simple terms to prove a Grand Theft the state must prove the following:
- You, as the accused, without permission and in an illegal manner, took the property of another;
- When you took the property you did so intending to permanently or temporarily deprive the rightful owner of the right to their property.
- The property taken was worth $750 or more.
Differentiating a grand theft from a petit theft, in addition to proving the first two elements (again the language in the jury instruction varies a bit), the State must also prove the value amount attached to the property or money alleged to have been stolen, since Grand Theft has a threshold amount. Failure of the State to show a value amount will lead to a not guilty verdict on a grand theft charge, but it could result in a conviction on a misdemeanor petit theft as a lesser included charge.Mitigation Tips
Like it or not, but not every allegation of the like is one suitable for trial. Each lawyer at The Mayberry Law Firm is highly trained to make this determination based on their experience as former State Attorneys and in their current practice as defense attorneys. When this is the case, we must begin working to mitigate the damage that this charge carries. What you can do to help:
- Break out the piggy bank. If it seems your case will inevitably end in a plea, then restitution will be required. If you begin saving immediately and if you are consistent, your attorney can relay this information to the State at your benefit. Offering an immediate ability to pay restitution can be used to negotiate a lesser charge, pretrial diversion, or a withhold of adjudication.
- If the victim is a business and the case is in a pre-filing investigative stage, allow your criminal attorney to reach out to the victim(s) or their attorney in an effort to negotiate a civil settlement. If this can be done, it is possible to avoid a criminal charge altogether. You should know that a victim can “settle” or “release” away a criminal charge, however in most instances if the victim agrees to proceed in this capacity and the accused upholds their end of the bargain, a favorable result will be obtained.
- If you legitimately believe a psychological issue affected your ability to act reasonably, go ahead and seek the counsel of a psychiatrist or psychologist, preferably with the participation of your attorney. Psychological issues often affect your ability to make proper decisions. So, if you are battling a psychological ailment, it is beneficial to show a proper diagnosis to the State Attorney.
- If your grand theft was out of necessity but it is not a strong enough assertion to use as an affirmative defense, inform us immediately. Eviction notices, warnings to turn off utilities, repossession notices, or showing an inability to feed your family may help support this assertion. Though it is not an excuse to break the law, it mitigates the criminal intent element of your charge.
Again, we cannot stress enough the importance of handling an allegation of a crime of dishonesty seriously. The lasting repercussions of a theft conviction will not only temper your ability to advance in the short term but will also impact you throughout your life. Whether you are charged with this crime in Tampa or any of the surrounding counties please contact an experienced Tampa criminal attorney as soon as possible. It is much easier to address the issues that arise with a felony charge at an early stage than to wait until it is too late. Do not allow yourself to be convicted of a theft crime. Give us a call at 813-444-7435 or contact us online today.