West Palm Beach Theft Lawyer
Scott Berry is Dedicated West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer Handling the Full Range of Theft and Fraud Crimes Cases
Theft will be charged when a person steals or attempts to steal property from someone else. Generally, the type and value of the property taken determines the severity of the offense. Though, it would be a major mistake to view any theft/fraud charges as a ‘minor’ offense. A conviction for any type of theft or fraud charge could follow you around for the rest of your life. You may end up in prison, you may lose your clean record, and it could even cause tremendous damage to your career. If you or your family member is facing this type of charge in South Florida, it is crucial that you seek guidance from a qualified criminal defense lawyer.
Scott Berry is an experienced West Palm Beach theft & fraud defense lawyer. Not only does he have extensive experience handling many different types of theft and fraud charges, but Mr. Berry is also a board certified criminal law specialist. For more than 15 years, he has skillfully advocated for the rights of defendants throughout South Florida. If you or your family member is facing theft or fraud charges in Palm Beach County, FL, please do not hesitate to reach out to our law office today for a free, fully confidential initial consultation.
We Handle the Full Range of Theft and Fraud Charges in Palm Beach County
Theft/fraud cases are notoriously complex. The criminal charges can come in a wide range of different forms. Indeed, theft can be charged as a first or second degree misdemeanor, or as a first, second or third degree felony. When you consider the many different types of fraud charges, the situation can become even more complicated. Generally, theft of property worth $300 or more, or of certain items such as motor vehicles or firearms, is a felony offense. At Scott Berry Law, P.A., our West Palm Beach theft & fraud charges defense attorney handles the full range of criminal cases in Florida. Some specific examples of theft/fraud charges that we can defend include:
- Writing bad checks;
- Shoplifting charges;
- Other types of petty fraud;
- Credit or debit card fraud claims;
- Other types of bank fraud offenses;
- Employee theft/embezzlement cases;
- Mail and & wire fraud charges;
- Identity theft charges;
- Other types of internet/computer fraud charges;
- Grand theft larceny;
- Insurance fraud
- Mortgage fraud; and
- Criminal investment fraud charges.
It is important to note that theft and burglary can be charged together. The burglary statute punishes the defendant for the entering into an area with the intent to commit an offense, while the theft statute punishes the defendant for the taking or attempt to take items from that restricted area. In addition to possible incarceration, theft of a motor vehicle also carries a possible driver’s license suspension. Simply put, the penalties of theft or fraud conviction can be extremely severe. To protect yourself or your loved one, it is critically that you speak to a qualified legal professional about your specific case as early on in the criminal justice process as possible. Do not wait to take action: contact our experienced West Palm Beach theft lawyers today.
Florida Statute, Section 812.014, Theft
(1) A person commits theft if he or she knowingly obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or to use, the property of another with intent to, either temporarily or permanently:
(a) Deprive the other person of a right to the property or a benefit from the property.
(b) Appropriate the property to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to the use of the property.
(2)(a) 1. If the property stolen is valued at $100,000 or more or is a semitrailer that was deployed by a law enforcement officer; or
- If the property stolen is cargo valued at $50,000 or more that has entered the stream of interstate or intrastate commerce from the shipper’s loading platform to the consignee’s receiving dock; or
- If the offender commits any grand theft and:
- In the course of committing the offense the offender uses a motor vehicle as an instrumentality, other than merely as a getaway vehicle, to assist in committing the offense and thereby damages the real property of another; or
- In the course of committing the offense the offender causes damage to the real or personal property of another in excess of $1,000,
the offender commits grand theft in the first degree, punishable as a felony of the first degree, as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s.775.084.
(b) 1. If the property stolen is valued at $20,000 or more, but less than $100,000;
- The property stolen is cargo valued at less than $50,000 that has entered the stream of interstate or intrastate commerce from the shipper’s loading platform to the consignee’s receiving dock;
- The property stolen is emergency medical equipment, valued at $300 or more, that is taken from a facility licensed under chapter 395 or from an aircraft or vehicle permitted under chapter 401; or
- The property stolen is law enforcement equipment, valued at $300 or more, that is taken from an authorized emergency vehicle, as defined in s. 316.003,
the offender commits grand theft in the second degree, punishable as a felony of the second degree, as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. Emergency medical equipment means mechanical or electronic apparatus used to provide emergency services and care as defined in s. 395.002(9) or to treat medical emergencies. Law enforcement equipment means any property, device, or apparatus used by any law enforcement officer as defined in s. 943.10 in the officer’s official business. However, if the property is stolen within a county that is subject to a state of emergency declared by the Governor under chapter 252, the theft is committed after the declaration of emergency is made, and the perpetration of the theft is facilitated by conditions arising from the emergency, the theft is a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. As used in this paragraph, the term “conditions arising from the emergency” means civil unrest, power outages, curfews, voluntary or mandatory evacuations, or a reduction in the presence of or response time for first responders or homeland security personnel. For purposes of sentencing under chapter 921, a felony offense that is reclassified under this paragraph is ranked one level above the ranking under s. 921.0022 or s. 921.0023 of the offense committed.
(c) It is grand theft of the third degree and a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, if the property stolen is:
- Valued at $300 or more, but less than $5,000.
- Valued at $5,000 or more, but less than $10,000.
- Valued at $10,000 or more, but less than $20,000.
- A will, codicil, or other testamentary instrument.
- A firearm.
- A motor vehicle, except as provided in paragraph (a).
- Any commercially farmed animal, including any animal of the equine, bovine, or swine class or other grazing animal; a bee colony of a registered beekeeper; and aquaculture species raised at a certified aquaculture facility. If the property stolen is aquaculture species raised at a certified aquaculture facility, then a $10,000 fine shall be imposed.
- Any fire extinguisher.
- Any amount of citrus fruit consisting of 2,000 or more individual pieces of fruit.
- Taken from a designated construction site identified by the posting of a sign as provided for in s. 810.09(2)(d).
- Any stop sign.
- Anhydrous ammonia.
- Any amount of a controlled substance as defined in s. 893.02. Notwithstanding any other law, separate judgments and sentences for theft of a controlled substance under this subparagraph and for any applicable possession of controlled substance offense under s. 893.13 or trafficking in controlled substance offense under s. 893.135 may be imposed when all such offenses involve the same amount or amounts of a controlled substance.
However, if the property is stolen within a county that is subject to a state of emergency declared by the Governor under chapter 252, the property is stolen after the declaration of emergency is made, and the perpetration of the theft is facilitated by conditions arising from the emergency, the offender commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, if the property is valued at $5,000 or more, but less than $10,000, as provided under subparagraph 2., or if the property is valued at $10,000 or more, but less than $20,000, as provided under subparagraph 3. As used in this paragraph, the term “conditions arising from the emergency” means civil unrest, power outages, curfews, voluntary or mandatory evacuations, or a reduction in the presence of or the response time for first responders or homeland security personnel. For purposes of sentencing under chapter 921, a felony offense that is reclassified under this paragraph is ranked one level above the ranking under s. 921.0022 or s. 921.0023 of the offense committed.
(d) It is grand theft of the third degree and a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, if the property stolen is valued at $100 or more, but less than $300, and is taken from a dwelling as defined in s. 810.011(2) or from the unenclosed curtilage of a dwelling pursuant to s. 810.09(1).
(e) Except as provided in paragraph (d), if the property stolen is valued at $100 or more, but less than $300, the offender commits petit theft of the first degree, punishable as a misdemeanor of the first degree, as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(3)(a) Theft of any property not specified in subsection (2) is petit theft of the second degree and a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083, and as provided in subsection (5), as applicable.
(b) A person who commits petit theft and who has previously been convicted of any theft commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(c) A person who commits petit theft and who has previously been convicted two or more times of any theft commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(d) 1. Every judgment of guilty or not guilty of a petit theft shall be in writing, signed by the judge, and recorded by the clerk of the circuit court. The judge shall cause to be affixed to every such written judgment of guilty of petit theft, in open court and in the presence of such judge, the fingerprints of the defendant against whom such judgment is rendered. Such fingerprints shall be affixed beneath the judge’s signature to such judgment. Beneath such fingerprints shall be appended a certificate to the following effect:
“I hereby certify that the above and foregoing fingerprints on this judgment are the fingerprints of the defendant, ____, and that they were placed thereon by said defendant in my presence, in open court, this the ____ day of ____, (year) .”
Such certificate shall be signed by the judge, whose signature thereto shall be followed by the word “Judge.”
- Any such written judgment of guilty of a petit theft, or a certified copy thereof, is admissible in evidence in the courts of this state as prima facie evidence that the fingerprints appearing thereon and certified by the judge are the fingerprints of the defendant against whom such judgment of guilty of a petit theft was rendered.
(4) Failure to comply with the terms of a lease when the lease is for a term of 1 year or longer shall not constitute a violation of this section unless demand for the return of the property leased has been made in writing and the lessee has failed to return the property within 7 days of his or her receipt of the demand for return of the property. A demand mailed by certified or registered mail, evidenced by return receipt, to the last known address of the lessee shall be deemed sufficient and equivalent to the demand having been received by the lessee, whether such demand shall be returned undelivered or not.
(5)(a) No person shall drive a motor vehicle so as to cause it to leave the premises of an establishment at which gasoline offered for retail sale was dispensed into the fuel tank of such motor vehicle unless the payment of authorized charge for the gasoline dispensed has been made.
(b) In addition to the penalties prescribed in paragraph (3)(a), every judgment of guilty of a petit theft for property described in this subsection shall provide for the suspension of the convicted person’s driver’s license. The court shall forward the driver’s license to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in accordance with s. 322.25.
- The first suspension of a driver’s license under this subsection shall be for a period of up to 6 months.
- The second or subsequent suspension of a driver’s license under this subsection shall be for a period of 1 year.
(6) A person who individually, or in concert with one or more other persons, coordinates the activities of one or more persons in committing theft under this section where the stolen property has a value in excess of $3,000 commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
Understanding the Penalties for Theft/Fraud in Florida
If you are facing theft/fraud charges, the punishment associated with a conviction or guilty plea can vary dramatically. There are a number of different factors that will need to be considered. First and foremost, the most important factor is the amount that was alleged to have been stolen. The higher the value of the money or assets that were allegedly taken, the more severe the penalties are likely to be for a conviction. Though, other factors are relevant as well, including:
- The specific nature of the offense;
- The culpability of the defendant;
- The age of the defender (youth offenders may have additional options available);
- Whether any aggravating factors are present, such as burglary or violence;
- Whether the federal government has potential jurisdiction in the case; and
- The prior criminal record, or lack thereof, of the defendant.
Defendants facing theft/fraud charges should be represented by a passionate criminal defense lawyer who can take the time to properly assess their case and put together a sensible legal strategy to protect their rights. It is crucial that you work with an attorney who will consider all issues relevant in your case, including the potential effect that a conviction will have on your educational or career opportunities.
Should I Hire a West Palm Beach Defense Attorney?
If you are facing criminal theft/fraud charges, or you are being investigated for criminal fraud, it is highly recommended that you consult with an experienced Palm Beach County criminal defense attorney. This is true even if your case only involves a misdemeanor offense. While certainly less serious than a felony, it is simply false to think of a misdemeanor as a minor issue. A conviction for misdemeanor theft has a potential to derail your life. It could even land you or your loved one in prison.
Our top-rated West Palm Beach theft/fraud defense lawyer is prepared to take action to protect your legal rights. No matter the specific circumstances of your case, we will work tirelessly to get you the very best results. Our legal team prides itself on effective, fully personalized criminal defense representation. We will investigate your case, help you explore all of your available legal options, and build the very best theft/fraud defense strategy on your behalf.
Contact Our West Palm Beach Theft Charge Defense Lawyer Today
At Scott Berry Law, P.A., our skilled West Palm Beach theft lawyer represents defendants in the full range of theft and fraud charge cases. If you or a loved one was arrested for theft or fraud in the West Palm Beach area, you need to seek professional legal representation. Your freedom could be at stake.
To set up a free, fully confidential theft/fraud charge consultation, please call us today at 561-281-7155. We represent clients throughout Palm Beach County, FL, including in Jupiter, Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Belle Glade, North Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Wellington, Greenacres, and Highland Beach.