Theft is a common crime throughout Florida. Many individuals who are accused of this offense face serious penalties that can affect their freedom, their finances and their future. With so much on the line, these individuals need to ensure that they are putting forth the strongest criminal defense they can muster. The first step in doing so is knowing the law and understanding it. Only then can a criminal defendant craft a defense strategy that seeks to raise reasonable doubt as to his or her guilt.
The crime of theft has several elements that a prosecutor must prove before a conviction can be obtained. First, it must be shown that the accused individual knowingly obtained or used the property of another. This state of mind, “knowingly,” can be difficult to prove. To succeed, the prosecutor must put on evidence showing that the defendant made an intentional decision to break the law.
Second, in order to obtain a conviction, the prosecution must prove that the defendant temporarily or permanently deprived the owner of the property of his or her right to it. This means that the prosecution must show that the property owner lost all rights to the property in question or completely lost a benefit provided by that property. This may be a little easier for a prosecutor to show, but it is still an element that must be met.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the case, a theft conviction can lead to significant penalties. An individual who is convicted may be sentenced to prison, hit with hefty fines and slapped with a mark on his or her record that may affect his or her ability to obtain a job, housing and an education, even after he or she has satisfied all other penalties. Fortunately, though, criminal defense options may be available. By speaking with an experienced attorney about the specifics of a case, an accused individual may be able to create a legal strategy that well-positions him or her to avoid these harsh consequences.