If you are charged with a crime, the State is required to produce sufficient evidence of each element of the crime to convict you. For example, to prove a defendant committed grand theft, the State must show that a defendant stole the property of another person and that the value of the property is at least $300.
A Florida appellate court recently reversed a conviction due to insufficient evidence of the value of stolen property in a grand theft case. If you live in Clearwater and are charged with grand theft or another criminal offense you should meet with a skilled Clearwater criminal defense attorney to discuss the circumstances surrounding your arrest and your available defenses.
Facts Surrounding the Alleged Theft
Allegedly, the defendant was charged with and convicted of burglary and grand theft. The State’s primary witness at the defendant’s trial was a co-defendant, who testified on behalf of the State following an entry of an open plea. The witness stated that he drove the defendant and another person to an apartment building and acted as a lookout as the defendant and the other man entered an apartment.
It is reported that the defendant and the other man returned to the vehicle with a television and other items, which were taken to the witness’ house for storage. When the witness was subsequently arrested, he allowed the police to search his cell phone. The search revealed over twenty calls between the witness and “GB” during the time of the burglary. The witness testified that GB was the contact name for the defendant. Following the trial, the defendant appealed his convictions.
Proving Grand Theft
On appeal, the court reversed the defendant’s grand theft conviction. The court noted that to prove grand theft, the State has to prove that the value of the stolen items is at least $300. Under the Florida statute that sets forth the elements of theft crimes, “value” is defined as the market value of the property when and where the crime is committed, or if the value cannot be accurately determined, the cost of replacement property. The court stated it had a two-prong test for determining whether the evidence produced at trial is sufficient to show the value of stolen property. First, the court must determine whether the person testifying is competent to attest to the value of the evidence. Then, the court must analyze whether the evidence produced is adequate to show that the stolen property was worth at least $300 at the time of the theft.
Here, the court noted that the victim testified as to the value of the property at trial, but only provided estimates of what he paid for the property. No testimony was offered regarding the age or condition of the items, however, or the degree to which the value of the items had depreciated since they were purchased. Thus, the court found that the victim’s estimate of the purchase price was insufficient evidence of the value of the items. Accordingly, the court reversed the defendant’s grand theft conviction and remanded the case with instructions.
Retain a Seasoned Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are a Clearwater resident charged with grand theft, you should retain a seasoned Clearwater grand theft criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to assist you in formulating a defense. Attorney William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is an experienced Clearwater criminal defense attorney who will aggressively advocate on your behalf. You can contact Mr. Hanlon at 727-897-5413 or through the online form to schedule a conference.
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