The theft lawyers in Pinellas County at Goldman Wetzel understand the fear and embarrassment that can accompany theft charges. If you face criminal theft charges in Pinellas County, you need a defense attorney who understands the system and knows how to build a strong case in your defense.
We have experience working within the Pinellas County criminal justice system and the State Attorney’s office. This insider’s perspective gives us the insight to find the solutions you need.
Contact us today for help: 727-828-3900.
What Crimes Might I Face Theft Charges for in Pinellas County?
Florida Statute § 812.014 defines this offense as knowingly obtaining or using — or attempting to obtain or use — someone else’s property with the intent to deprive the victim of the rights or benefits of the property or for the benefit of someone not entitled to the property’s use.
Depending on the value of the property in question and the circumstances of the crime, offenders may face charges that range from petit theft, a first- or second-degree misdemeanor, all the way up to grand theft, which may qualify as a first-degree felony.
Some of the most common theft crimes in Pinellas County include:
- Retail theft/shoplifting
- Auto theft
- Identify theft
- Writing bad checks
- Credit card theft (e.g., using credit card skimmers)
- “Dine and dash”
- Defrauding an innkeeper
- Theft of services (e.g., cable TV, power, water)
- Failure to return leased property
The Florida statutes take some specific types of theft more seriously than others. If you steal any of the following items, you will face felony charges and potential time in the state prison:
- Motor vehicles
- Fire extinguishers
- 2,000 pieces or more of citrus fruit
- Stop signs
- Controlled substances
- Construction site materials
It is important to note that some types of theft crimes may qualify for federal charges. White-collar crimes, including theft and fraud, may be of interest to federal prosecutors, particularly if the victim is (or involves) a federal agency or if the value of the stolen goods is high. Federal prosecutors may also wish to pursue those cases that involve multiple defendants or more serious underlying offenses, such as money laundering, mail or wire fraud, or conspiracy.
In almost all cases, federal charges carry significantly higher penalties. If you believe federal prosecutors are considering filing charges against you, contact Goldman Wetzel immediately. Often, we can intervene with the federal prosecutor and potentially avoid this threat.
What Are the Penalties for Theft in Pinellas County?
The penalty for a theft conviction in Pinellas County will depend on the type of property stolen, the monetary value of the property, and the circumstances under which the theft took place. However, for every crime, you may face:
- Jail or prison time ranging between 60 days and 30 years
- Fines ranging from $500 to $10,000
- Community service
- Counseling or treatment
Your conviction will also become part of your permanent record. This can prevent you from getting jobs, renting a house, or holding many types of professional licenses. Upon conviction for felony theft, you will lose your civil rights, including the right to vote or own or possess a firearm.
Upon conviction for theft, you could face additional legal trouble in the form of a civil suit. This can lead to a judgment in the plaintiff’s favor and additional legal fees necessary to defend yourself.
The Florida statutes do not look favorably on repeat offenders. Florida law states that, if you have two prior petit theft convictions, your third offense automatically elevates to a felony, no matter what the value of the stolen property may have been.
We may be able to convince the prosecution to drop the charges or go easy on you. In any case, we will ensure the prosecution knows you and your story. In some cases, this can make it more difficult to throw the book at you.
How Can the Theft Lawyers at Goldman Wetzel Help Me?
At Goldman Wetzel, we use a unique, team-based approach to defending our clients facing theft charges. This synergy gives us a distinct advantage in how we approach criminal defense for theft crimes.
If you call us immediately after your arrest, we will intervene and attempt to persuade the prosecution to forgo charges.
We will immediately go to work uncovering all the relevant facts about your case. We will explore the legality of your arrest and any possible violation of your legal rights. We will determine the true value of the alleged stolen property, to determine what, if any, charges should apply in your case.
We will also examine how the police have handled the evidence in your case, to determine if they violated any legal guidelines.
We will then use any irregularities or weaknesses in the prosecution’s case to negotiate on your behalf. Depending on the strength of the prosecution’s case, we might succeed in getting your charges dropped.
If the prosecution has a strong case, we can request a diversion or pretrial intervention program, or we can negotiate a plea bargain for an acceptable reduced charge.
In some cases, we may recommend taking your case to court. If so, we may use one or more of these common strategies to establish reasonable doubt.
- Illegal Search: We can challenge the legality of your search based on the arresting officer’s lack of probable cause.
- Violation of Legal Rights: We can challenge the legality of any evidence or statements you made, if the police failed to advise you of your rights before questioning you.
- Intent: We can present evidence that you had no intention to commit theft and that the incident was either a misunderstanding or an honest mistake.
- Alibi: We can present evidence for a case of mistaken identity, based on your presence elsewhere at the time the theft occurred.
Whatever defense strategies we devise, we will work tirelessly to ensure the protection of your legal rights and the best possible outcome for you. We will ensure that you understand all your options, and help you make the right choice for your future.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Goldman Wetzel Today
At Goldman Wetzel, our unique team approach provides a variety of clear advantages for our clients. We devote personalized attention and a high level of focus to your case, allowing us to develop unique and effective strategies for your defense.
If you need legal help, contact us at the earliest possible time. The sooner we can get to work on your case, the better our chances of helping you avoid theft or other criminal charges. If the prosecutor has already filed charges, we need to begin gathering evidence and building a case for your defense as quickly as possible.
Contact Goldman Wetzel to schedule an appointment in Pinellas County: 727-828-3900.