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When Theft Charges become Federal Charges

Theft is one of the most common charges in the criminal justice system. People across the state of Florida are charged with a variety of theft charges on a regular basis. The majority of these cases are handled in state court and with proper representation; they often end with light sentences and/or restitution payments. But under certain circumstances, theft cases fall within the jurisdiction of the federal government, with the potential for stiffer penalties and incarceration in a federal prison.

Several news outlets are reporting that South Florida is now connected with a federal theft case. According to ABC News, the incident began in March when a tractor trailer was robbed on its way from Miami to Massachusetts. The truck, which held millions of dollars in gold and silver bars, was accompanied by two armed guards. According to reports, the vehicle was pulled over in North Carolina after experiencing mechanical problems. Three armed men allegedly held the guards at gunpoint while they stole more than $4 million worth of gold and silver.

The FBI is investigating the heist. The agency and the armed guard company are each offering a reward for information leading to an arrest or recovery of the stolen gold and silver. Recent articles are reporting that one of the gold bars was recovered in South Florida, creating a direct link between the area and the robbery. According to reports, the bar weighs in at a significant 27 pounds, with a monetary value of more than $470,000. This development is sure to result in increased investigations in and around the South Florida.

What Places a Theft Charge under Federal Jurisdiction

There are a number of circumstances where a theft crime becomes a federal offense. Some examples include:

  • Theft from any banking institution that is a member of the Federal Reserve System;
  • Theft from any federal government agency, such as Medicare or Social Security;
  • Securities violations;
  • Transporting stolen property by interstate; and
  • Theft of culturally significant artwork from a museum.

In the case of the gold bars, the theft occurred on an interstate highway, subjecting it to federal jurisdiction. In addition, the recovery of a bar in South Florida suggests that the stolen property was transported over state lines.

Sentencing for federal theft charges can range from a few months to more than 20 years of imprisonment. When determining the proper sentence, the federal sentencing guidelines start with a basic offense level, which is given a designated number of points. From there, additional points are added based on facts about the crime. For example, theft of more than $5,000 in value receives an additional two points. Points are also added for multiple victims and past convictions for the defendant.

The potential seriousness of a theft conviction calls for a serious and capable lawyer who can provide you with a successful defense. If you are facing theft charges, our Miami defense lawyers can help ensure that you put forward your best defense. Contact Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC today at (305) 330-3905 for a confidential and free consultation.

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