Under Florida law, theft crimes are graded, in part, by the value of the object stolen. As such, in many instances, the State is required to prove the market cost of the diverted goods in order to demonstrate the defendant’s guilt. If the State is unable to meet this burden, the defendant should be acquitted. Recently, a Florida court discussed what evidence the State must produce to demonstrate the fair market value of a stolen object in a case in which it ultimately affirmed the defendant’s felony theft conviction. If you are accused of taking someone else’s property in violation of the law, it is wise to talk to a Clearwater theft crime defense attorney about your rights.
It is reported that the defendant faced a second-degree felony charge of grand theft for the alleged theft of jewelry in July 2020 from his ex-girlfriend. The stolen items included a watch and a platinum wedding band with diamonds. During the trial, the ex-girlfriend testified that she purchased the watch in 2004 for approximately $20,000 and the wedding band in 2002 for approximately $2,900.
Allegedly, she further testified that the defendant sold the Rolex watch at a pawnshop, and she identified it by matching the serial number. The State asked the ex-girlfriend about the pawnshop’s asking price for the watch. Defense counsel objected to the question, but the court overruled their objection. During redirect, the ex-girlfriend mentioned that the defendant received $10,000 from the pawnshop for the watch. The defendant moved for acquittal, but the trial court reserved ruling. After the trial, he renewed his motion for acquittal, which the court denied. He was convicted of third-degree felony theft, and he appealed.
Evidence Needed to Establish Guilt for Felony Theft Crimes Under Florida Law
On appeal, the defendant contended that the trial court erred in denying his motion for acquittal, as he believed the State had failed to provide substantial, competent evidence to prove that the fair market value of the stolen watch exceeded the threshold for a felony charge. The court disagreed and affirmed his conviction.
The court explained that, in Florida, grand theft in the third degree requires the stolen property to have a value of $10,000 or more but less than $20,000 at the time of the theft. The key element is value, which generally means the fair market value at the time of the theft. In the subject case, the court found that the ex-girlfriend’s testimony, including the original purchase price, condition, usage, and the $10,000 amount paid by the pawnshop, constituted evidence that reasonably supported the determination that the Rolex watch’s fair market value was $10,000 at the time of the theft. Therefore, the court affirmed the defendant’s conviction and sentence for grand theft.
Meet with a Trusted Clearwater Attorney
Theft crimes range in severity, but in many instances, they are felony offenses. If you are accused of a theft offense, it is smart to meet with an attorney to discuss your options for seeking a favorable outcome. The trusted Clearwater theft crime defense attorneys of Hanlon Law can assess the facts of your case and assist you in seeking the best legal result possible. You can contact Hanlon Law by using our online form or calling us at 727-897-5413 to set up a conference.