The criminal defense lawyers at Goldman Wetzel often handle theft crime cases in St. Petersburg and understand the fear, embarrassment and emotional stress that go along with theft charges. If you are facing criminal theft charges in or near Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area, you need a defense attorney who understands the criminal justice system and has experience building strong cases in the defense of those charged with many different types of theft crimes.
We have experience working within the local criminal justice system and the State Attorney’s office. It can be a significant benefit and advantage to hiring a criminal defense attorney that formerly worked as a prosecutor in protecting your rights and your criminal record.
What Crimes Might I Face Theft Charges for in Florida?
Theft charges are defined by the Florida Statute § 812.014 which states that this offense is defined 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 a first-degree (such as petit theft) or second-degree misdemeanor, up to grand theft, which may qualify as a first-degree felony. For instance, a first offense of theft of property valued between $100 and $300 is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor while second-degree applies to theft of property valued above $300.
The Florida statutes take some specific types of theft crime more seriously than others. If you steal any of the following items:
- Motor vehicles
- Fire extinguishers
- 2,000 pieces or more of citrus fruit
- Stop signs
- Controlled substances
- Construction site materials
You will face felony charges and potential time in the state prison.
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, regardless of what the value of the stolen property may have been.
Theft Charges & Federal Crimes
It is important to note that some types of crimes may qualify for federal charges, such as money laundering, conspiracy, mail or wire fraud. White-collar crimes, including theft and fraud may be of interest to federal prosecutors if the value of the property stolen is substantial or the victim is (or involves) a federal agency.
In almost all cases, federal charges carry significantly higher penalties. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney defending you in the event that you have been charged or believe to be facing federal charges is important. 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.
Common Theft Charges in St Petersburg, FL
While there are many forms of theft and fraud crimes committed, some of the most common types of theft crimes in St. Petersburg include:
- Auto theft
- Credit card theft (e.g., using credit card skimmers)
- Defrauding an innkeeper
- “Dine and dash”
- Failure to return leased property
- Grand Theft
- Identify theft
- Retail theft/shoplifting
- Theft of services (e.g., cable TV, power, water)
- Writing bad checks
What are the Penalties for Theft in Florida?
The penalty someone may face if convicted of theft vary and depend on the type and value of the property stolen, respectively, as well as the circumstances under which the theft took place. However, in the state of Florida, you may face:
- Community service
- Counseling or treatment
- Fines ranging from $500 to $10,000
- Jail or prison time ranging between 60 days and 30 years
Upon conviction for theft, you may also 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.
Your conviction will also become part of your permanent record. This can prevent you from securing jobs, renting an apartment or house, or holding many types of professional licenses. Upon conviction for felony theft, you will lose your civil rights, including the right to vote and own or possess a firearm.
Facing Theft Charges in St Petersburg, FL? Why Hire Goldman Wetzel Criminal Defense Attorneys
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.
- Alibi: We can present evidence for a case of mistaken identity, based on your presence elsewhere at the time the theft occurred.
- Illegal Search: We can challenge the legality of your search based on the arresting officer’s lack of probable cause.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Call Goldman Wetzel for a Free Consultation
If you need legal advice or help with your case, contact Goldman Wetzel criminal defense law firm at the earliest possible time. The sooner you call, the sooner we can assess your case, get to work and the better the changes of helping you avoid theft and other criminal charges.
We take a unique team-based approach that you won’t find at many other law firms. This provides a variety of clear advantages for our clients and the outcomes of their cases. Call 727-828-3900 now to have your case evaluated and schedule a consultation with us.