Dealing in Stolen Property
Florida Property Crimes Lawyer
In Florida, not only is it a crime to steal property, it is also a crime to deal or traffic in property that is known to be stolen. Dealing in stolen property, also known as fencing, is a felony offense in Florida and carries with it serious penalties. If you have been charged with dealing in stolen property, it is essential to retain the services of an attorney who understands the possible defenses to the crime and can help you prepare a well-crafted defense.
In order to show that a defendant has committed the offense of dealing in stolen property, the prosecution must show that the defendant sold, distributed, transferred, dispensed, or otherwise disposed of property, or attempted to do so, and knew or should have known that the property was stolen.
Additionally, it is an even more serious crime in Florida to initiate, organize, plan, finance, direct, manage, or supervise the theft of property and then later to deal in that property.
To show that a defendant has dealt in stolen property, it is not sufficient to show merely that he or she has purchased the property. In order to deal in stolen property, the defendant must have an intent to resell or redistribute the property. Defendants are not required, however, to actually distribute the property—they simply must possess the property with the intent to do so.
Property means anything of value. This includes real property, meaning anything affixed to or growing on land, and both tangible and intangible personal property, such as goods, services, intellectual property, interests, or claims. Stolen property includes any property that has been wrongfully and criminally taken.
Knowledge that property is stolen can be inferred, unless the defendant can provide a reasonable explanation otherwise. Some situations that lead to an inference of knowledge include:
- Buying or selling property at a price substantially below market value;
- Buying it from or selling it to a property dealer out of the ordinary course of business, without any proof of ownership;
- If another’s name or contact information appears on the property; or
- For a vehicle, evidence of bypassing the ignition mechanism or the steering lock.
Dealing in stolen property is a second degree felony in Florida, no matter how much the property was worth. Second degree felonies are punishable by any combination of imprisonment of up to fifteen years, probation of up to fifteen years, and a fine of up to $10,000.
If the defendant has first planned the theft and then trafficked in the property, he or she has committed a first degree felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to thirty years, probation of up to thirty years, and a fine of up to $10,000.
If you have been charged with dealing in stolen property, you face severe penalties, and so it is essential to hire an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Please call the West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for a free consultation.