Dealing in Stolen Property is a serious felony under Florida law and oftentimes individuals who have never been in trouble with the law are prosecuted for it even though they truly had no idea that they were doing anything wrong. Dealing in stolen property can be either prosecuted as a 2nd-degree felony or a 1st-degree felony depending on the circumstances.
Per Florida Statute 812.019 you are guilty of the 2nd-degree felony of dealing in stolen property if you:
Traffic or endeavor to traffic in stolen property and
Know or should have known that the property was stolen
You are guilty of the 1st-degree felony if you:
Initiate, plan, organize, finance, direct, manage or supervise the theft of property and
Traffic the same property.
Prosecutors often charge people with the 2nd degree felony even if they cannot prove that the person actually knew the property was stolen because the knowledge that the property was stolen can be inferred based on the circumstances. For example if you buy a brand new iPhone for $50 and then try to sell or pawn the phone you can be charged with the 2nd degree felony of dealing in stolen property.
The 1st degree felony is reserved and oftentimes used for bigger criminal theft rings that steal merchandise from stores and then either pawn or sell the same items. It can also be charged if you ask someone to steal an item for you and you then turn around and pawn the item.
The 2nd degree felony for dealing in stolen property is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and/or probation and a $10,000 fine and the 1st degree felony is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and/or probation and a $15,000 fine. The prosecutor can and often times will charge a separate count/offense for each item that was pawned or sold. This means that if there was more than one item, you can end up with multiple charges.
Dealing in stolen property is charge that can be easily defended by an experienced criminal defense attorney. There are several defenses, including:
A reasonable explanation for buying an item way below market value
A reasonable explanation for possessing recently stolen property
A reasonable explanation as to why you had a car where the ignition mechanism has been bypassed
You were pawning items for someone else
The item you were selling/ pawning was not stolen
You were not trafficking the item within the meaning of the statute (That means you were not selling or pawning or otherwise distributing the item. Buying a stolen item without any intent of selling or pawning the item is not enough).
A reasonable assumption that the item was either given to you or abandoned
Yes, if you are charged with either the 2nd or 1st degree felony of dealing in stolen property, you should always hire an experienced and knowledgable Tampa criminal defense attorney. You should also never try to offer an explanation without the assistance of an attorney if arrested or questioned by the police. That is because police may take any type of explanation you give out of context and may use everything you say against you. A criminal defense attorney can contact police and the state attorney’s office on your behalf and thereby attempt to either have the charges dismissed completely or at least reduced to a lesser offense. Kerstin Wade has successfully defended hundreds of clients for these type of charges and can help you achieve the best possible outcome. Contact us as soon as possible to speak to an attorney for a free consultation at 813-401-0130.