If you have been arrested or accused of grand theft, then you need to speak with experienced Sarasota Grand Theft lawyer, Anthony G. Ryan before you speak with the police. If you have already been arrested, then call to speak about your case immediately. Mr. Ryan will discuss possible defenses or how to mitigate or reduce the possible consequences of a theft charge.Diversion Program/ Pretrial Intervention (PTI)
One of the best ways to minimize the effects of a Sarasota theft case is by entering a first-time offenders’ diversion program. The benefit of a diversion program is that at the end, assuming you complete all the requirements (usually includes community service hours, anti-theft class, and paying restitution), your charge is dismissed, and you may be eligible to have the public record expunged. Anthony G. Ryan has experience helping past clients successfully resolve their grand theft cases by negotiating with the state to allow entry into a diversion program (also known as pre-trial intervention or PTI).Petit Theft
Theft of property worth less than $100 is a second-degree misdemeanor petit theft, punishable by up to sixty days in jail and a $500 fine. If the property is worth $100 or more, but less than $300, then it is a first-degree misdemeanor theft, punishable by up to one year in the county jail and a $1000 fine. You can be charged with felony petit theft if you have had two or more prior convictions for any theft, even if you are only accused of taking a pack of gum. Likewise, you can be charged with first-degree misdemeanor petit theft if you have one prior conviction for any theft.Grand Theft
Theft becomes a felony when the property stolen is worth $300 or more and is called grand theft. Grand theft is a third-degree felony that is punishable by up to a maximum of five years in prison (property must be worth $300 or more but less than $20,000). You can also be charged with grand theft in the third degree for stealing a will, firearm, motor vehicle (also called grand theft auto), a commercially farmed animal, a fire extinguisher, citrus fruit, property taken from designated construction site, stop sign, ammonia, and any amount of a controlled substance. You can also be charged with grand theft when the property stolen is valued at $100 or more but less than $300 if the property is taken from a dwelling (house) or the unenclosed curtilage of a dwelling (porch pirates beware).
If the amount of the theft is between $20,000 or more but less than $100,000 then it becomes a second-degree felony grand theft which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. If the property taken is $100,000 or more then it is a first-degree felony grand theft punishable by up to thirty years in prison.
Grand theft can also be reclassified and increased by one level if the theft occurred during a state of emergency that was declared by the governor and the theft is facilitated by the conditions of the emergency. Grand theft is also reclassified if the victim is 65 years of age or older.Elements of Theft
In order to prove the crime of theft, the State must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt: The defendant 1. Knowingly and unlawfully, 2. Obtained or used or endeavored to obtain or use, 3. the victim’s property, 4. With the intent to a. permanently or temporarily deprive the victim of her right to the property or any benefit from it or b. appropriate the victim’s property to the use of the defendant or any person not entitled to it. “Endeavored” means attempted, so the crime of theft includes attempts or cases where the theft is not actually completed.Value of Property
One of the most overlooked aspects in a grand theft case is the “value” of the property in question. Value is defined as the market value of the property at the time of the alleged crime. In a retail theft, the market value is the sale price at the time the merchandise was stolen. If the stolen property was “used” then determining the fair market value of the property can be difficult and may require the opinion of an expert or person with special knowledge about the purchase and sale of the stolen item. When the degree of the theft depends on the value of the stolen property, the State must prove the value beyond a reasonable doubt. If the State fails to prove the value of the property at trial, then a felony grand theft may quickly change to a petit theft.
Although an owner of stolen property can testify to the original market cost, the condition or quality of the item, an owner might not have enough knowledge to testify to the fair market value of the property. In a close case where the market value of the property is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor, an experienced Sarasota grand theft attorney may be able to use an expert witness to convince the jury the item is not worth as much as the State believes. Call Sarasota grand theft lawyer Anthony G. Ryan to discuss the specific facts of your grand theft case today.