If you acquire property you know – or reasonably should know – is stolen, and you sell the item, you could be charged with dealing in stolen property. In Florida, this offense is always charged as a felony. If you’re convicted, you could be sentenced to years in prison and be ordered to pay thousands of dollars in fines.
What Is Dealing in Stolen Property?
Florida Statute 812.019 defines dealing in stolen property as selling or intending to sell an item someone knows or should know is stolen. For instance, if you’re friend works at a theme park and suddenly has an abundance of one-of-a-kind items that could only be found on that property, it may be assumed that they took the objects without permission. Now, if they ask you to pawn the merchandise for you could be charged with dealing in stolen property.
In dealing in stolen property cases, the State must prove that:
- The defendant sold or planned to sell stolen property, and
- The defendant knew the property was stolen
In the hypothetical case referenced above, you could be convicted of the offense because you accepted and sold items you should have reasonably known were stolen. In some cases, proving knowledge of stolen property can be challenging, as a defendant could have unwittingly obtained an item from a trusted friend and sold it to help that friend out financially.
If you’re charged with dealing in stolen property, it’s essential to know that defenses may be raised on your behalf. Pleading guilty is not your only option, and it’s crucial to get sound advice and guidance from an attorney before making decisions about how to move forward with your case.
What Are the Penalties for Dealing in Stolen Property?
In Florida, dealing in stolen property can be charged as a second- or first-degree felony, which means the potential conviction penalties include up to decades in prison and steep fines.
The crime is a second-degree felony when a person traffics (meaning distributed, sold, or otherwise dispensed of) the property. A conviction could result in a maximum imprisonment term of 15 years and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
If the defendant is accused of being the ringleader of the crime, the charge increases to a first-degree felony. Being the "ringleader" means that the individual orchestrated or supervised the theft and trafficking of stolen property.
Returning to the example mentioned earlier, say your friend had a bunch of their coworkers help take items from the theme park. Your friend could be charged with a first-degree felony offense.
In Florida, a conviction for a first-degree felony could result in up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
What’s interesting to note about Florida’s dealing in stolen property law is that the conviction penalties aren’t dependent on the value of the item allegedly trafficked. With a theft crime, the level and degree of charge vary based on how much the stolen merchandise is worth. For instance, it’s a third-degree felony to take an item valued at $750 or more. It’s a first-degree misdemeanor to take something valued at less than $750.
The dealing in stolen property law does not make such distinction, and regardless of whether the item is a $100 smartwatch or a $1,000 TV, a defendant will face the same charges and penalties.
If you’ve been accused of a crime in Daytona Beach, allow our skilled attorneys at Hager & Schwartz, P.A. to deliver the aggressive defense you need to fight your charges. Call us at (386) 693-1637 or contact us online today.