Are You Guilty Of Theft If Someone Else Forced You To Steal?
Motives matter in many criminal cases. In some cases, you can be convicted of a crime if you accidentally injure someone, but the penalties are much less severe than they would be if you had intentionally injured the person. In the case of financial crimes, what you were thinking at the time of the incident makes a big difference. Taking someone else’s property is theft, but not if you reasonably believed that the owner of the property gave you permission to take it. Falsifying financial records is money laundering, but only if you knew that the information that you were recording was false. If you genuinely and reasonably believed that it was true, then it was a mistake, and making a mistake is not a crime, although it may be grounds for disciplinary action by your employer. When one person coerces another into stealing, the person legally responsible may not be the one who removed the stolen item from its legal owner’s possession, or at least, the person who lifted the item might not bear full criminal responsibility for the act. If you are being accused of stealing, but actually things are not that simple, contact a West Palm Beach shoplifting lawyer.
If You Played a Minor Role in a Theft Ring, Are You a Conspirator or a Victim?
This month, Florida news headlines told of a family that operates a sober living home to provide housing for people who have recently completed addiction treatment. The family allegedly sold millions of dollars’ worth of utility equipment through their ecommerce store over a ten-year period. The husband is facing charges for racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, and dealing in stolen property. The wife is also being charged with conspiracy, and the husband’s mother is being accused of dealing stolen property.
Meanwhile, a man and a woman who lived at the sober living house while the theft ring was operating are also being accused of theft crimes. They allegedly visited retail stores throughout Pinellas, Polk, and Hillsborough Counties and stole merchandise to give to the owner of the sober home so he could resell it. Prosecutors allege that the family that owns the sober home preyed on emotionally and financially vulnerable people and pressured them into stealing.
It is not a valid defense if, when accused of theft, you simply say that you stole the items because you were in a difficult financial situation. It may be a valid defense, however, if you can argue that someone else coerced you into stealing by using intimidation, threats, or blackmail. If you are willing to testify against the person who coerced you into stealing, this may help you get a lighter sentence, get your charges reduced, or even gain immunity from prosecution in connection to the theft ring.
Contact a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
Attorney William Wallshein has more than 38 years of experience, including five years as a prosecutor in Palm Beach County. Contact William Wallshein P.A. in West Palm Beach, Florida to discuss your case.