Dealing in Stolen Property
In Florida, it is considered a serious crime to traffic in stolen property. In fact, this offense is a second degree felony and so is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. To learn more about this charge and potential defenses, please contact an attorney who is well-versed in white collar crime and can ensure that your rights are protected.
What Qualifies as Dealing in Stolen Property?
Florida law specifically defines dealing in stolen property as trafficking or attempting to traffic in stolen property, which includes selling, distributing, transferring, disposing, buying, receiving, possessing, or using the property. A person does not have to know that property was stolen in order to be convicted of this offense. As long as a prosecutor can establish that a defendant should have known that property was stolen, he or she can be convicted of dealing in stolen property. However, a charge can be enhanced to a first degree felony if there is proof that a defendant initiated, organized, planned, directed, financed, or supervised the theft before trafficking in the stolen property.
Property is broadly defined as any item of value, which could include real property, and both tangible and intangible personal property. Furthermore, to qualify as stolen, the property has to have been either wrongfully taken or if not stolen, offered for sale as stolen property.
Before a person can be convicted of dealing in stolen property, prosecutors must prove that he or she knew or should have known that the property was stolen. There are also certain scenarios that can give rise to an inference of knowledge, including:
- Proof that a defendant was in possession of recently stolen property;
- Evidence that the property in question was purchased or sold at a price substantially below fair market value;
- Proof that the purchase or sale of the property was made during the regular course of business by a person who regularly deals in property;
- Evidence that the defendant regularly deals in used property and was found in possession of the stolen property, upon which the name or phone number of a person other than the seller was conspicuously displayed; and
- Proof that a defendant was in possession of a stolen car and that the ignition mechanism had been bypassed or the steering wheel locking device had been broken.
In these cases, courts are permitted to infer that the person in possession of the property knew or should have known that it was stolen. However, these reasonable inferences can be rebutted by a satisfactory explanation.
There are also a variety of defenses available to those who have been accused of dealing in stolen property, including that:
- The defendant did not know that the property had been stolen;
- The defendant had pawned the items at someone else’s request without knowing where the property originated;
- The defendant’s actions do not fall under the definition of trafficking;
- The property in question was not stolen;
- The defendant mistakenly believed that he or she had the right to dispose of the property;
- The defendant believed that the property in question was abandoned or given as a gift;
- The property has been mistakenly identified;
- The victim is making a false claim to ownership; and
- There is a lack of evidence that the property was stolen.
To learn more about whether one or more of these defenses apply to your own case, please contact our legal team today.
Call a White Collar Crime Attorney Today
If you have been charged with dealing in stolen property, please contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. Criminal Defense Attorneys at 305-670-9919 for an initial case evaluation. Our dedicated Miami attorneys can begin working on your case immediately.