In Florida and Miami, theft is a felony offense and is referred to as ‘grand theft’ when the object stolen is worth $300 or more. If the property that was stolen is valued below $300, then the offense is considered a misdemeanor. Misdemeanor theft cases are referred to as “petit thefts”. There are significant differences in the way these two types of cases are assessed in court and in the potential consequences for the defendant. This is why it is so important for defendants to be fully informed by a Miami Criminal Lawyer before they make any decision as to their case.
Because the value of the stolen object is an element of the crime, value is an important issue to litigate in these criminal cases. Ultimately, the responsibility to prove value falls upon the state. If the state cannot prove the value of the property to be $300 or more, then the offense will be considered a misdemeanor. This is important for any defendant and for any Miami Criminal Lawyer. Fortunately, if the state cannot or does not prove the value of the stolen object, the offense will be considered a misdemeanor even when it seems obvious that the item would be more expensive.
In one recent theft case, a defendant stole fencing material from a business. The fencing material was old and had not been in recent use, and therefore, the business was unable to identify how much had been paid for it. At the ensuing trial, the state did not present evidence suggesting the market value, but an individual from a hardware store testified the value of a replacement to be $450. With that testimony, the defendant was convicted of grand theft.
However, the Miami Criminal Lawyer on the case contested the case and appealed the conviction on the grounds that there was ‘reasonable doubt’ regarding the value of the property.
Because the market value had not been ascertained to the appellate court’s satisfaction, it ultimately meant that the conviction was not upheld. The witnesses themselves did not adequately prove the market value, and therefore, the crime could only be considered a misdemeanor.
This is one example of countless cases where the advice of a criminal lawyer in Miami proved to be instrumental in minimizing the charges against their client. Do not go to trial without the advice and support of a legal team that knows what they are doing. Get in touch with Pagán & Stroleny, P.L. today for your free consultation, 305-615-1285.
We handle a variety of criminal law cases, so call us now if you have any questions.
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