Articles Posted in Theft

The Double Jeopardy Clauses in the state and federal Constitutions aim to protect individuals from being unfairly subjected to repeated prosecutions and punishments for the same offense. As such, if a defendant is convicted on multiple theft charges arising out of the same incident, they may be able to successfully argue that one or more of their convictions may be vacated. In a recent Florida case in which the defendant was convicted of multiple theft crimes, the court explained when the Double Jeopardy clauses are triggered and ultimately vacated two of the defendant’s convictions.  If you are charged with a theft offense, it is in your best interest to meet with a Clearwater theft crime defense lawyer about what defenses you may be able to set forth.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with burglary, grand theft from a retail merchant, and two counts of petit theft. Following a trial, a jury found him guilty as charged. He appealed, arguing that his two convictions for petit theft arising out of the same incident violated the rule against double jeopardy. The court agreed, and the State acknowledged the error. As such, the court vacated his theft convictions; it otherwise affirmed his remaining convictions without further comment.

Protections Provided by the Double Jeopardy Clause

The Double Jeopardy Clause in both the United States and Florida Constitutions prohibits subjecting an individual to multiple prosecutions, convictions, and punishments for the same criminal offense. In cases involving theft convictions, where the offenses are merely variations of the core offense of theft, having dual convictions based on the same core offense is not permissible. This is because each offense is considered an aggravated form of the underlying offense of theft, and they differ only in terms of degree.


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People in Florida are generally aware that taking another individual’s property without permission is illegal, but they often lack an understanding of the precise acts an individual may be charged with for stealing or otherwise depriving a person of property. For example, many people think of burglary as involving theft, when in actuality, there is a substantial difference between theft and burglary in Florida. If you being investigated for or accused of committing a crime, it is smart to meet with a capable Clearwater criminal defense lawyer to evaluate your potential defenses.

What’s the Difference Between Theft and Burglary in Florida? 

Pursuant to Florida law, burglary is the act of entering a building with the intent to commit a criminal act inside, unless the property is open to the public or the defendant was invited or is licensed to enter. Notwithstanding entrants that are invited or licensed, it also constitutes burglary to secretly remain in a building or stay after permission to remain has been withdrawn, with the intent to commit a crime, or to stay to commit or attempt to commit a forcible felony. While burglary may involve theft, stealing property is not a statutory element of the offense.

A person that knowingly uses or obtains, or attempts to use or obtain someone else’s property with the intent to deprive the person of his or her property rights or benefits, or appropriate the property for his or her own use, commits theft. Such acts constitute theft regardless of whether the offender intends to temporarily or permanently take the property. Continue Reading ›

In order to obtain a conviction in a criminal case, the State must present evidence sufficient to establish that the defendant committed each element of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt. If the State’s case is severely lacking in competent evidence, a defendant may be able to obtain an acquittal, and if an acquittal is unjustly denied, it may constitute grounds for a reversal of a guilty verdict. In a recent Florida ruling, a court explained the grounds for granting an appeal in a case in which a defendant who was charged with numerous theft crimes filed a motion for judgment of acquittal that was denied. If you are charged with theft crimes, you may be able to avoid a conviction, and you should talk to a seasoned Clearwater criminal defense attorney about your options.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with burglary, robbery, and other offenses. During the trial, the State presented evidence that the defendant occasionally worked for the victim, who was found bound and beaten in his home. The State also showed footage of the defendant driving the victim’s forklift around town, and the victim’s son testified that his father did not let anyone borrow the forklift. Finally, a photograph taken by the defendant showed that he was on the victim’s property on the day the crimes occurred. At the close of the State’s case, the defendant moved for a judgment of acquittal. His motion was denied, and he was convicted as charged, after which he appealed.

Reviewing a Denial of Acquittal Under Florida Law

On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal because the State failed to present sufficient evidence that he committed the charged offenses. The court explained that appellate courts review a trial court’s denial of a motion for judgment of acquittal de novo to determine whether the evidence is adequate to sustain a conviction. Further, the court explained that Florida courts recently modified their standard for reviewing evidence. Continue Reading ›

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A criminal defendant may face grave penalties if he or she is convicted of using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. Depending on the nature of the accusations against the defendant, however, he or she may be able to seek dismissal of the charges on the grounds that they are unconstitutional. A Florida court recently explained what a criminal defendant must demonstrate in order to have such charges dismissed in a case in which the defendant was convicted of numerous offenses arising out of a robbery. If you are charged with theft crimes or any other criminal offense, it is in your best interest to hire an aggressive Clearwater criminal defense attorney to help you fight to protect your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was indicted and charged with numerous crimes, including Hobbs Act robbery in violation of federal law, and carrying a firearm which was used during the robbery, which was deemed a crime of violence. He pleaded guilty to those two charges, after which he was sentenced to fifty-seven months imprisonment for the robbery charge and one-hundred-and-eighty months imprisonment for the related firearm charge. He subsequently filed a motion, arguing that his conviction of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence was unconstitutional, as Hobbs Act robbery was not categorically defined as a crime of violence under the relevant statute. The court found that the defendant’s claims were without merit and denied his motion.

Crimes of Violence Under Florida Law

The court explained that the relevant statute stated that it was a crime for anyone to use a firearm during the commission of, or to possess a firearm in furtherance of, a crime of violence. Under the elements clause of the law, an offense is considered a crime of violence if it is a felony that has an element of the use or threatened or attempted use of force against another person or property.

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