Possession of Stolen Property in Florida

Musca Law Theft Defense Attorneys Serve Florida

Dealing in stolen property is a criminal offense that is outlined in several sections of Florida Statutes. While there are different levels at which this crime may be committed and different penalties a defendant may face, the general definition of dealing in stolen property is: offering, selling, or trafficking property that the offender knew or should have had reason to know was stolen.

Penalties for Possession of Stolen Property

Using the internet to deal with the stolen property may be a misdemeanor or felony offense, depending upon the value of property stolen.  

For example, the following are considered felonies:

  • Trafficking or attempting to traffic stolen property is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Organizing, operating, managing, directing, or financing a trafficking operation that deals in stolen property is a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

A person may face criminal charges for theft and for dealing in stolen property, but a defendant may only be found guilty of one offense or the other, not both.

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A Closer Look at Terms Associated with Possession of Stolen Property

To fully understand the laws concerning possession of stolen property in the State of Florida, here is a closer look at some terms outlined in Florida Statute Title XLVI, Chapter 812.012:

  • “Cargo” can refer to shipments (both partial and entire), containers, or boxes of property that are transported via vehicle (such as an airplane, car, truck, boat) at locations like a freight station.
  • “Dealer in property” refers to a person who works in the dealing and sale of property.
  • “Obtains or uses” can refer to one of several activities including: having control over the property, illegally transferring/selling property, or obtaining this property by means of fraudulent activities.
  • “Property” refers to any objects or items of value, while “property of another” refers to these objects that individuals cannot infringe upon with the consent of the owner.
  • “Stolen property” refers to objects or services that have been at the center of criminal activities.
  • “Traffic” is a generalized term for selling, transferring, buying, and/or controlling property with the intention of selling this same property.

Committing Theft in the State of Florida

Keep in mind that possession of stolen property counts as a transaction of goods/services that have been obtained by means of theft. As such, you must also understand the laws governing this offense in the state, as outlined in Statute Title XLVI Chapter 812.04.

As highlighted by Chapter 812.04 (1)(a-b), an individual commits a theft if he or she uses or seeks to obtain property that is owned by another person for the purpose of:

  • Keeping the owner from achieving the benefits of this property or claiming a right to this property.
  • Use the property to his/her advantage or to another person who also does not have permitted control over this property.

Depending on the price of the property, certain laws will change. According to Chapter 812.04 (2)(a), anyone who commits an offense related to theft under the following circumstances can potentially be charged with a 1st-degree felony:

  • The stolen property has a value of $100,000 or more or is a semitrailer owned and supervised by a member of law enforcement.
  • The stolen property has a value of $50,000 or more that has entered an interstate commerce stream between the shipper’s platform and a loading dock.
  • The offender has committed grand theft.
  • The offender used a motor vehicle as an instrumental part of the theft (besides the obvious use as a getaway vehicle).
  • The offender, in the process of committing the crime, caused damages to the actual property that exceeds $1,000.

As dictated in Florida Statutes 775.083 and 775.084, individuals charged with a felony of the 1st degree will face life imprisonment and/or a fine of $10,000 to $15,000.

For more information about charges for grand theft of the first, second, and third degrees, please review Florida Statute 812.014.

Possessing Altered Property

Under the category of “Theft” outlined in the Florida Statutes Title XLVI Chapter 812.16, any individual who possesses altered property (that was removed without permission from the manufacturer and/or owner) and should have been aware of critical pieces of information (such as serial numbers) will be charged with a 1st-degree misdemeanor, resulting in a fine of $1,000 and/or jail time of no more than 1 year.

Trafficking Stolen Property

As dictated in Florida Statute Title XLVI Chapter 812.19, any individual who takes part in the trafficking of stolen property or makes any attempt to traffic this property (which he/she fully understands to be stolen) will be charged with a 2nd-degree felony, punishable by a $10,000 fine and/or jail time that does not exceed 30 years.

Chapter 812.19 also states that any individual who organizes or supervises activities that involve the trafficking of stolen property or attempts to traffic stolen property will be charged with a 1st degree felony, punishable by life imprisonment and/or fines that are $10,000 or $15,000 in total.

Trafficking Stolen Property Via the Internet

As dictated by Florida Statute Title XLVI Chapter 812.0195, any individual who takes part in trafficking stolen property by means of the Internet may be punished in one of two ways:

  • If the property is valued at $300 or less, the offender will be charged with a 2nd-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $500 and/or jail time of no more than 60 days.
  • If the property is valued at an amount over $300, the offender will be charged with a 3rd-degree felony, punishable by a fine of $5,000 and/or possible jail time.

Identifying Evidence of Trafficking Stolen Property

Ultimately, to prove that an individual or group of people has been trafficking stolen property, legal officials must take several elements into consideration. Under Florida Statute Title XLVI, Chapter 812.22 (1-5), the following factors are featured as proof of possession of stolen property:

  • Presentation of a false ID or a form of identification that does not contain updated information (name, address, employment, or additional factors) in the association of leasing property or did not return the materials within a window of 72 hours, on the ground that this interference resulted in theft
  • Possession of property that was stolen on the grounds that the culprit(s) fully knew that this property had previously been stolen
  • Sale of stolen property at a price far below established market values
  • Dealing in the stolen property outside the legal circles of business (without presenting information regarding the original owner)
  • Dealing in the stolen property by means of a false ID

Keep in mind that these laws do not apply to items that do not have serial numbers or fall under the categories of computer games, software, or video games.

Determining Charges for Theft and the Possession of Stolen Property

As dictated in Florida Statute Title XLVI, Chapter 812.025, not contradicting with additional laws set up by the State of Florida, one indictment or single piece of information can (depending on the elements surrounding the crime at hand) charge a culprit with the crime of theft and trafficking of stolen property on the grounds of one criminal scheme. However, a final verdict can only be established for one count, not both simultaneously.

Exceptions to A Valid Defense for Possession of Stolen Property

On the grounds of defense in a court of law, as dictated in Florida Statute Title XLVI, Chapter 812.028, the culprit and his/her legal representative may not pursue defense for the prosecution on the grounds of the following factors, on the grounds of possession of stolen property:

  • Any form of deception involving the accompaniment of an undercover agent
  • Any opportunity to violate Florida laws concerning “theft,” as outlined in FS 812.021
  • Property offered for sale as a piece of stolen property
  • Solicitation (by means of a police officer) of an individual to take part in the trafficking of stolen property in the State of Florida

Supplemental Fines Attached to Charges of Trafficking Stolen Property

As dictated by Florida Statute Title XLVI, Chapter 812.032, individuals who have stolen or obtained any property of value, who have been found guilty of inflicting injuries on people, damaging property, or being responsible for additional losses can be (on the grounds of state law) be fined no more than 2 times the value of the property. This fine shall also include expenses for the prosecution and the investigation process.

The final amount of the fine will ultimately be determined in a court of law.

Determination of a Valid Theft Case

As indicated by the Florida Statutes, Chapter XLVI, § 812.014, instructions listed for members of a Criminal Jury highlighted in Case 14.1, members of the court must prove (without any doubt) that the defendant:  

  • Willingly obtained and/or attempted to use property rightfully owned by the victim.
  • Willingly (for temporary or permanent means) strove to deprive the victim of his/her piece of property and any benefits attached to this property or use this property for the purpose of entitlement.

As indicated in FS Title 705.102, any individual who discovers stolen property and fails to report the loss of this property can be charged with theft under similar counts.

As part of a defense on the grounds of theft, if the defendant can prove (without any doubt) that he/she honestly believed that he/she had the legal right to own and/or possess the property in question, this notion can be used as a ground for defense.

Determination of a Valid Case for Dealing in Stolen Property on the Grounds of “Fencing”

As indicated by the Florida Statutes, Chapter XLVI, § 812.019(1), instructions listed for members of a Criminal Jury highlighted in Case 14.2, members of the court must prove (without any doubt) that the defendant:

  • Trafficked or attempted to traffic the property in question.
  • Was fully aware that the property was stolen or should have known this information.

In the event that the jury is presented with charges for theft and trafficking simultaneously, special steps shall be taken to determine multiple or single charges.

Determination of a Valid Case for Dealing in Stolen Property on the Grounds of “Organizing”

As indicated by the Florida Statutes, Chapter XLVI, § 812.019(2), instructions listed for members of a Criminal Jury highlighted in Case 14.3, members of the court must prove (without any doubt) that the defendant:

  • Had been responsible for organizing, planning, financing, directing, and managing the operation focusing on the theft of the property in question.
  • Had been responsible for trafficking in the stolen property.

If applicable to FS Chapter 812.022 (1-6), the jury can refer to specific inferences concerning frequency of trafficking activity and the severity of the crime.

Determination of a Valid Case for False Verification or Identification to Pawnbrokers

As indicated by the Florida Statutes, Chapter XLVI, 539.001(8)(b)8, instructions listed for members of a Criminal Jury highlighted in Case 14.3, members of the court must prove (without any doubt) that the defendant:  

  • Sold or offered property to a pawnbroker.
  • Willingly presented a false ID or altered form of identification regarding ownership of the property.
  • Got money from the pawnbroker (in question) after completing a transaction surrounding the sale of the property.

If the defendant is found guilty, the court must determine if the monetary value was $300 or greater.

Need Defense? Put 150+ Years of Collective Experience to Work for You!

If you have been accused of dealing in stolen property, you may be facing a long-term prison sentence as well as heavy fines. A Florida theft defense lawyer at Musca Law can meet with you for a free case evaluation and determine what can be done to defend your rights. You may have been falsely accused or may have had no idea that the property you were dealing with was stolen. You will need a legal professional who has the ability to prove this in court in order to help you avoid a conviction.

The lawyers at Musca Law represent clients throughout all of Florida, and we offer a free consultation with an attorney at our firm to help you get started. Call (888) 484-5057!

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