Defending A Crime of Opportunity
Its cold outside and the frigid temperatures can wreak havoc on a car. To minimize the damage, individuals go out to their cars each morning, turn them on and then return to their warm homes with the keys still in the ignition. Its no wonder that many of these people return to their driveways to find their beloved vehicles gone, stolen by someone one who saw an opportunity and went for it. These types of incidents are labeled “crimes of opportunity” and a local news outlet reports that they are on the rise in some Florida localities.
The Patch is reporting a rise in opportunity crimes within the Tampa area. The locality’s police department is reportedly alerting residents and asking them to take precautions to prevent these occurrences. Other examples of these crimes include:
- Auto thefts where keys are left in the ignition;
- Stolen items that were left in unlocked cars; and
- Intruders entering into unlocked dwellings.
These types of offenses do not involve premeditation or planning. Instead they are generally carried out at the spur of the moment, based on the opportunity at hand.
When facing any accusation regarding a theft crime, it is important to secure the services of an lawyer as soon as possible. But if you are an otherwise law abiding citizen, who bent to temptation, a lawyer may be able to use the circumstances surrounding the incident to successfully defend the case. By showing that it was a crime of opportunity, void of any premeditation, your lawyer may gain leniency from the court.
Florida’s Theft Laws
Unfortunately, in the state of Florida, theft laws are not classified according to premeditation or intent. The main designation is based on the value of items taken, regardless of whether you designed an elaborate scheme for the theft or took advantage of a situation in the spur of the moment. The prosecutor must only prove that you possessed the intent to deprive an owner of the use and possession of his property.
Florida distinguishes between petit theft and grand theft.
- Stolen property valued at less than $300 is classified as petit larceny, which is a misdemeanor
- A conviction for theft of property valued between $300 and $20,000 is grand larceny in the third degree
- A conviction for theft for property valued between $20,000 and $100,000 is grand larceny in the second degree
- A conviction for theft for property valued over $100,000 is grand larceny in the first degree
Punishment for a theft conviction can result in fines and imprisonment up to thirty years, depending on the classification of the crime. These hefty consequences reinforce the importance of legal counsel when you are faced with accusations of theft. By securing an lawyer early in the process, your charges may even get dropped, negating the need for any court procedures.
If you or a loved one is facing theft charges, Attorneys Mycki Ratzan and Jude Faccidomo can provide you with an aggressive and comprehensive defense. Contact Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC in Miami today at (305) 330-3905 for a confidential and free consultation.