Help from a Fort Lauderdale Grand Theft Lawyer
In Florida, theft charges can result in serious penalties if people are convicted. The penalties are based on the value of what was taken, and when the taken property is valued at more than $750, a theft crime can be charged as grand theft. Fort Lauderdale grand theft lawyer Kenneth Hassett, Esq. has decades of experience defending people charged with theft offenses. Recently, a Broward County Sheriff’s Office deputy was arrested and charged with grand theft following an investigation.
Deputy Charged With Grand Theft
The Public Corruption Unit of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office recently conducted an undercover investigation of a deputy who worked at the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport following a tip. On Aug. 24, an undercover agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives who was assisting with the investigation brought a brown purse to the deputy while he was sitting in his marked patrol vehicle. The undercover agent was posing as a traveler and told the deputy that they found the purse at the airport. The purse had several decoy items inside to make it look like it was lost by a passenger and $1,664 in cash. The deputy did not turn the purse in during the remainder of his shift, which ended early on Aug. 25. Investigators said that the deputy instead removed the cash and threw away the purse and its remaining contents.
The deputy reported to work again later on Aug. 25, but he did not mention the purse or return the cash. He was subsequently arrested on Aug. 26 during the middle of his shift shortly before 1 a.m. According to the investigators, the deputy had spent around $200 of the money during the intervening time. They found $1,476 of the money inside the deputy’s patrol vehicle.
A Broward County judge found the investigators had probable cause for the deputy’s arrest and charges when he appeared in bond court. The bond was initially set at $1,000 upon the prosecutor’s request, but the deputy’s lawyer said that he couldn’t afford to post the bond. The judge then instead released the deputy on pretrial release without a bond and told him to follow the pretrial release conditions and not possess any firearms or ammunition to remain on pretrial release. In a statement, the sheriff stated that the Broward County Sheriff’s Office is dedicated to ensuring its deputies are held accountable when they break the law. The deputy was suspended without pay following his arrest. He has been employed by the sheriff’s office since Dec. 2001. He was charged with one count of third-degree felony grand theft and one count of possessing a firearm while committing a third-degree felony.
Grand Theft in Florida
Under § 812.014, Fla. Stat. (2022), a person can be charged with theft when they knowingly take or use someone else’s property while intending to permanently deprive the owner of it. Theft can be charged as grand theft and a third-degree felony when the value of the property taken is worth more than $750 but less than $20,000. A conviction of grand theft as a third-degree felony carries a potential prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of $5,000.
The deputy was also charged with carrying a weapon while committing a third-degree felony. Under § 790.07, Fla. Stat. (2022), carrying a weapon while committing a third-degree felony is also a third-degree felony carrying up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Potential Defenses to Grand Theft Charges
While grand theft is a serious offense, there are some possible ways to defend against it. Since it is a specific intent crime, one potential defense is showing that the defendant did not have the required intent to deprive the rightful owner of the property, believed the property was the defendant’s, or jointly owned it with the alleged victim. Other potential defenses to grand theft charges occur when the defendant had a legal right to obtain the property or had the owner’s consent. Other defenses might also be available. A Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer at Hassett & Associates can review the facts of a grand theft case to determine the most appropriate defenses to raise.
Talk to a Fort Lauderdale Grand Theft Lawyer
Theft charges can result in serious consequences if people are convicted, including prison time, substantial fines, and possible probation. Attorney Kenneth Hassett has more than 30 years of experience defending people against all types of criminal allegations in South Florida. If you or someone you know has been in a similar legal situation, contact Hassett & Associates, P.A. at 954-791-3939.