Articles Posted in Theft Crimes

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It was only $23 worth of merchandise. The very charge has the word “petit” in it. Why is this a big deal? The State as offered an adjudication of guilt and nominal court costs, shouldn’t I just accept that and walk away? Not only no, but hell no. Petit theft, or any other variety of crime of dishonesty are snakes in the grass that keep biting long after resolution if not handled correctly. Far too often I receive calls from individuals who resolved a theft allegation to a nominal direct penalty in Court, only to have that decision haunt them for the rest of their lives. Anything an individual does that calls on credibility will be affected by a criminal history reflecting a crime of dishonesty. For that reason, it is absolutely imperative to retain a criminal lawyer well versed with not only the direct consequences of a theft crime, but also the collateral consequences often overlooked.

A common Petit Theft charge is either classified as a first or second-degree misdemeanor, depending on the value of the item alleged to have been taken. If the property is between $100 and $299.99 the petit theft will be classified as a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 11 months, 29 days in county jail and a $1000 fine. If the value is less than $100 the second-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in the county jail and a $500 fine. For all intents and purposes the State Attorney’s Office will treat petit theft in the same fashion regardless of its misdemeanor level. What often gets overlooked is the fact that an adjudication of guilt to a petit theft could result in a driver’s license suspension and such conviction will remain the basis for disappointment for years to come. Any job application that triggers a criminal background check will yield a reflection that the applicant has a crime of dishonesty. Employers are very hesitant to hire one with a theft conviction in their past for fear that the person will steal from them, or worse, steal from a customer resulting in reputation damage or the threat of a lawsuit. Obtaining a mortgage or housing as a renter could be made exponentially harder if a background check reveals a theft charge. Any lender or landlord must rely on the credibility of the individual tasked with paying a loan or rent. The simple fact is, those with criminal histories involving theft crimes are going to have a hell of a lot harder time finding housing due to potential issues with credibility. For those that seek higher education and an ultimate licensure, having a crime of dishonesty on your record could inhibit or delay that process.

At the end of the day people may make youthful mistakes or mistakes of desperation that are aberrant and out of character. I believe that the sum of an individual is not their worst deed and hate when I see someone who is suffering from a mistake made years ago or worse, from a choice to resolve a charge based upon poor legal advice. It is critical if charged with any variety of theft crime, regardless of severity, to consult with a Tampa theft attorney well versed in both the direct and collateral effects of crimes of dishonesty. Jason Mayberry has protected his clients in the Tampa area for over ten years. Call on his experience to help you on your case now and to ensure an isolated charge doesn’t haunt you for years down the road. Contact us today at 813-444-7435 for a free consultation.

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One hit wonder and 90’s musician Vanilla Ice was arrested and charged with burglary and grand theft in Palm Beach County this week. According to news reports, Ice was renovating a nearby home as a part of his DIY television show “The Vanilla Ice Project” where he and his crew renovate and flip homes. According to the police, Ice is accused of burglarizing an unoccupied dwelling and stealing a pool heater in addition to several pieces of furniture sometime between December 2014 and February 2015. Several of the allegedly stolen items were later found in his home. The Lantana Police Department released a statement saying that “during the investigation, it was determined Robert Matthew Van Winkle (your buddy Vanilla Ice) played a role in the burglary and theft. Mr. Van Winkle is currently renovating the residence adjacent to the property in which the items were stolen. A search warrant was obtained and executed in unincorporated Palm Beach County in which several of the stolen items were recovered at a residence under the care and control of Robert Van Winkle.” There you have it. Every mid 30’s, slightly overweight white kid from middle America should just fall to their knees and pray now for a swift and favorable resolution to our childhood idol’s case. As if it weren’t enough that Ice only enhanced our lives with one damn song, now he’s accused of doing very basic crap like flipping homes. Now this. Here is what I have to say to you Ice so please stop, collaborate and listen…

Ice, I will represent you FOR FREE. Granted I’m a Tampa criminal attorney rather than a Palm Beach criminal lawyer but let’s not quibble. If you’re accused of jacking a pool heater and skunky furniture from a house in foreclosure, to hell with calling Saul, get Jason. Beggers can’t be choosers here Ice. The allegations against you aren’t good. If the burglary of an unoccupied dwelling sticks you’re looking at possibly hanging in and putting on rap shows in the Department of Corrections for up to 15 long, terribly boring years. To make matters worse, if you try to renovate your jail cell you might be charged with escape under Florida Statute 944.40 and have additional time added on to your prison term, again up to 15 long years. That’s brutal for simply wanting to knock out a wall isn’t it? And what about the grand theft charge? How much was that stuff worth? Less than $20,000? If so you’re in better shape that if it’s $20,000 or more. Less than $20,000 could get you up to 5 years in the pokey, while $20,000 to $99,999.99 could get you up to 15 years. If it’s $100,000 or more then I’m officially erasing all of my childhood memories of slam dunking my Nerf basketball and honing my baller skills as a 10 year old while you rocked the mike like a vandal on my cassette player. Is this how you want to be remembered!?!?
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Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Jameis Winston was accused this week of stealing crab legs from a Tallahassee, Florida Publix. Since the time of the incident, media outlets, NFL scouts, and fans of certain rival teams have taken issue with Winston’s actions, making fun, questioning his character and showing concern over his draft stock. Perhaps these concerns are warranted and perhaps not, all are certainly entitled to their opinion. At the end of the day, Winston wasn’t charged with a criminal offense for retail theft or petit theft but rather was issued a civil infraction requiring him to perform public service hours and pay a nominal fine. His eligibility for the civil infraction program was reviewed by local law enforcement in Tallahassee and Winston was ultimately deemed a proper candidate for diversionary action. I’ll be the first to admit I’m biased as I’m both a Tampa criminal lawyer and a Garnet and Gold bleeding, armchair quarterbacking, TV yelling, die hard Florida State alum. Though many believe Winston intended to steal the items from Publix, could it possibly be that this really was what just began as an innocent mistake followed by poor judgment? I’m confident my friends from that school in Hogtown will insist on his criminality but could it be possible that there was no criminal intent here?

As with most other crimes, an allegation of petit theft requires that the person accused possessed the requisite mental state to commit a crime. In English, the State Attorney must show, in order to prove a theft crime has occurred, that one intended to deprive the victim of their property either temporarily or permanently. Generally proof of intent is found circumstantially through an effort to deceive a victim, an effort to conceal the stolen item or an admission of guilt. Had the State charged Winston with a crime in this instance, it would have been for a second degree misdemeanor petit theft count as the value of the property taken was less than $100.

Though I wouldn’t normally recommend someone roll the dice and take their theft allegation to trial on a lack of mental state defense (unless the facts are completely legitimate), Winston’s initial actions in leaving the store without paying may be a decent situation where that defense could work. After winning the Heisman Trophy Winston is arguably one of the biggest sports celebrities going today. No doubt he is approached constantly by students and grown men alike asking for an autograph or picture, or doing anything they can to get his attention. If this occurred while he was in Publix, it is possible that in a moment of distraction, Winston did leave with his food, not realizing his mistake. Not to make excuses for my alma mater’s quarterback, but unfortunately being a criminal defense attorney doesn’t provide the same kind of entertaining schedule one who is a dual sport athlete on two nationally ranked collegiate teams has. He is an everyday player in two sports that overlap. He’s taking a full load of classes. The guy has to be busy. He’s probably a bit tired at times too. Could it be that that added to this incident? What of the fact that he left without concealing the items? Witnesses stated that he left holding the items in plain view. That’s not very good thievery in my opinion.
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Teacher’s Aide by day, pantless driver by night? That’s what Pasco County deputies claim after pulling over Kristi Steuber earlier this week. According to a police report, Steuber was pulled over in Pasco County for speeding when deputies detected an odor of alcohol on her breath after making contact. Deputies claim Steuber attempted to explain where she had been and what she was doing but simply mumbled when asked. As is standard protocol when an officer has reasonable suspicion of DUI, Steuben was asked to exit the vehicle to perform field sobriety exercises. This is when things went downhill quickly for Steuber according to the police. Police allege Steuber had nothing on from the waist down when she exited her car and didn’t acknowledge this fact until asked twice to put on some pants. As one could imagine, based at least in part on the allegation of a breezy booty and her mugshot, Steuber was arrested for DUI and later is alleged to have blown a .135 and .137.

There are certain DUI cases that make DUI lawyers cringe. This, my friends, is one of them. Compared to many DUI’s I’ve handled, this breath test isn’t remarkable. As most know, in Florida, to be convicted of driving under the influence the State must prove the defendant drove or was in actual physical control of a vehicle and while doing so was either under the influence of alcoholic beverages or a chemical substance or a controlled substance to the extent that his or her normal faculties were impaired or had a blood or breath-alcohol level of .08 or more. The .13 breath test Steuber is alleged to have given, though above the legal limit isn’t a rockstar level. The struggle for her attorney will be the issue of pants. Having pants on when pulled over by the police is helpful when trying to convince them or a jury that the driver was sober. Obviously no pants isn’t proof positive that one is impaired, however one could safely say most prosecutors would rely heavily on this fact while making their case. Free legal advice- when driving home from the bar, wear pants.
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The vast majority of the time if one is charged with a Federal crime they are very likely subject to a considerable amount of incarceration. In some situations it’s possible for a hard working Federal criminal attorney to try their client’s case and earn an acquittal. Unfortunately for a defendant, Federal criminal cases tend to be well investigated and by the time the individual is charged, the United States Attorney has a nearly airtight case with which to work. But what about the minor crime committed by one with a squeaky clean criminal history where the crime is seemingly victimless? State criminal courts have pretrial diversion but do our Federal courts? Surprisingly to some, the answer is yes. So what does it take to get into Federal Pretrial diversion?

As with many facets of a Federal criminal charge, the United States Attorney handling the case has a great amount of discretion as to whether to offer diversion. Should you be lucky enough to have a reasonable and compassionate US Attorney, you must still meet the criteria found within the United States Attorney Manual section 9-22.100. In order to qualify for Federal Pretrial Diversion the US Attorney must choose to divert you should you not: have two or more prior felonies, be a public official or former public official accused of an offense arising out of a violation of the public trust, accused of an offense related to national security or foreign affairs, be accused of an offense that under existing department guidelines should be diverted to the State criminal court system. Should you be lucky enough to get into diversion you will be there no longer than 18 months should you complete the program and will still be required to pay any restitution owed.
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Tennessee man Jerimiah Clyde Hartline, 19, was arrested on suspicion of grand theft, driving without a license and hit and run for stealing an 18 wheeler, crashing it, and causing a giant traffic jam in Temecula, California earlier this month. First off, sweet name. Only a guy with a name like this from the hills of the dirty south would have the presence of mind to commandeer a big rig to prevent a zombie attack. Excellent thinking Clyde. No, not really as this has Florida written all over it. Meanwhile, back at the ranch… According to the California Highway Patrol, Hartline informed authorities that he stole the truck from a weigh station in Rainbow, California because he was sure zombies were hot on his trail. Further, despite his high speed driving and swerving all over the road, the zombies wouldn’t shake loose eventually causing Mr. Hartline to crash the truck and injuring many. As a result of the zombie attack and subsequent crash, all four lanes of the interstate were closed for several hours while cleanup crews cleared the truck from the road and corralled the two loads of strawberries on board. According to the news report it is “unknown whether Hartline was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”

Yes, it would be a mystery as to whether Mr. Hartline was sober or slightly influenced by an “extracurricular” substance… Man, I wonder if he was? Time will tell with a potential DUI. As for now, we know he’s getting charged with grand theft. If I were a betting man I’d estimate he will be charged with DUI with serious bodily injury as well.
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A New York man is wanted for stealing ladies undergarments from a New York City apartment building. Elizabeth Santana, a resident of the apartment building first noticed her underwear was missing from her laundry when left unattended. Unable to figure out what happened, Ms. Santana requested and viewed surveillance video from the laundry room. Low and behold her worst fears were true as she saw a young white male sneaking into the laundry room, proceed to open the dryer containing her clothes, and subsequently sneak out with panties in tow. Not surprisingly this was not the first time lady’s undergarments were taken from the same apartment building. Just three months prior there was an initial report of the same thing. Other apartment buildings in the area reported missing underwear as well though it is unknown if the same purveyor of panty is responsible or if he is working with an entire team of panty raiders.

Depending on the amount of underwear stolen and the fanciness of same will determine whether this unknown male could be charged with a felony grand theft or a misdemeanor petit theft. Either way Florida Statute 812.014 is applicable. Because this panty thief has knowingly obtained the property of these ladies with the intent to either deprive them of the property’s use or to appropriate the panties to his own use (weird and gross) he would be guilty of some type of theft crime. If the value of the panties is $300 or more, under subsection (c) he would be facing a third degree felony. If it’s $299.99 or less, he’s still in misdemeanor country if considering the theft only.
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A Louisiana man and woman recently stripped of their parental rights are thought to have kidnapped their own children from the children’s maternal Grandmother early Wednesday. Joshua Michael Hakken and his wife, Sharyn Patricia Hakken are alleged to have broken into the Tampa residence of Patricia Hauser, tied her up, and kidnapped their biological children. Within the past few months the children were sent to live with Hauser after the Hakkens lost their parental rights over the children. Hillsborough County Sheriff’s investigators say Joshua Michael Hakken entered Hauser’s home at 6:30AM Wednesday, proceeded to tie up the children’s’ Grandmother and then fled in Grandma’s 2009 Toyota Camry.

The Tampa criminal attorney that gets this case might as well open up the criminal statute book and proceed to dump it out on his desk. There really doesn’t seem to be much Pops hasn’t done wrong in his kid caper. Burglary? Check. Kidnapping? Check. Grand Theft? Yes sir, we have that too! False Imprisonment shouldn’t be left out and really neither should battery. Again, lets dump this statute book out right here on the desk of Hakken’s selected Tampa criminal lawyer. So how does it all work and fit together? Grab a seat, this may take a while.
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Chinese food takeout driver Stan Worby, 39, can be said to be West Yorkshire, England’s very own version of Bruce Wayne for his actions last Monday morning. Worby, after attending a soccer game dressed in full Batman attire, brought a man wanted for handling stolen goods and fraud to the police station and told the officers in his presence that he had “caught this one for you.” At the time Batman left ,he failed to give his information and vanished into the night, much like the superhero for whom he was dressed.

It is reported that the man delivered by the Caped Crusader was on the lamb for a while with British authorities making diligent inquiry locally in an effort to apprehend him. The equivalent Tampa criminal charges for which he was wanted in merry ole England would likely be dealing in stolen property and perhaps scheme to defraud though it’s impossible to speculate without the specific facts. For argument’s sake, a Tampa criminal lawyer would have to defend on accusations that one trafficked in or endeavored to traffic in property that he or she knew to be stolen. Florida Statute 812.019 governs dealing in stolen property and a conviction for a charge of the like can be a second-degree felony, or a first-degree felony if the individual is found to be an organizer in the scheme. A Tampa criminal attorney must overcome proof that one actually engaged in a scheme to defraud someone out of property or anything of value. Depending on the monetary value of the property at issue will be the level of felony charged. As with any other theft related crime, the higher the value of the subject of the crime the more serious the charge will be. Scheme to Defraud is governed by Florida Statute 817.034. Lastly, depending on whether the wanted man was previously issued a bond after initial arrest, he could be subject to similar repercussions as Florida’s Failure to Appear Statute provides. In Florida, under 843.15, if one is arrested and posts a bond and then fails to appear they can be guilty of a third degree felony if their initial crime was a felony, or a first degree misdemeanor if their original charge was a misdemeanor.
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A man in Iran has been charged with bank robbery after purchasing a faulty spell from a local sorcerer to make him invisible and then taking money from bank patron’s hands. For the Iranian bank robber, he would have been best served to either look in a mirror prior to testing out his purchase or at the very minimum to have asked for a test run before shelling out the $500 for the invisibility cloak. When questioned by an Iranian Judge about the allegations, the man explained that he purchased a set of spells to tie to his arm that would make him invisible. He further explained that the sorcerer from whom he made his purchase explained to him that he could rob banks to his heart’s content due to the invisibility provided by the spell pack. Unfortunately for our Iranian friend when he entered the bank and began taking money from patrons’ hands, he quickly learned that he was very visible.

Though we’re in Iran for purposes of this blog, if one elected to purchase invisibility and perform a bank robbery in the United States, they would be staring down the barrel of a Bank Robbery charge under 18 USC 2113. The Federal Bank Robbery statute says that whoever by force and violence, or through intimidation, takes, or tries to take from another, or obtains or attempts to obtain something by extortion belonging to, or in the care, custody, control, management, or possession of, any bank, credit union, or any savings and loan association or whoever enters or attempts to enter any bank, credit union, or any savings and loan association, with intent to commit any felony affecting such bank, credit union, or such savings and loan association and in violation of any statute of the United States, or any larceny–
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.
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