A pair of burglars were caught on surveillance video taking a personal watercraft from the yard of a Hollywood, Florida home, before dawn on Valentine’s Day. The home security video showed a hooded man casually walking up to the victims’ two-story house at about 3:30 a.m., jumping over a wooden fence and fumbling with a lock before walking away. About two hours later, the man returned, this time with an accomplice driving a large pickup truck. The hooded man opened the gate and dragged a red and silver 2003 Sea-Doo GTX and its trailer outside. The truck is seen backing up to the house, then leaving with the watercraft. The “Jet Ski” was the most stolen type of watercraft, with 1,219 reported thefts from 2009 to 2011. The average value of such a watercraft is $15,615.
One commits theft in Florida if one knowingly obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or to use, the property of another with intent to, either temporarily or permanently:
- Deprive the other person of a right to the property or a benefit from the property, OR
- Appropriate the property to one’s own use or to the use of another not entitled to the use of the property.
Grand theft is a special term that basically sets the degree of severity based upon the value of the property that’s illegally taken. In general, any property taken that carries a value of more than $300 can be considered grand theft in certain circumstances. However, there are different severities in punishment for the theft crime depending on the value of the property. Most stolen property crimes will be charged as a third degree felony, forcing the State to show that the property taken is:
- a motor vehicle,
- a firearm,
- worth less than $20,000, but more than $300, or
- a will, codicil, or other testamentary instrument.
In this case, the Jet ski will probably be valued at the above stated value of $15,615, thus falling into the category of a third degree felony charge, should the burglars ever be found. If one is convicted of third degree grand theft, one will be exposed to up to five years in prison or probation, depending on the severity of the circumstances, and fines of up to $5,000.
Furthermore, in this case, under florida law, a burglary charge will be brought against the two unknown men. One may be charged with burglary if one enters a dwelling, a structure, or a conveyance with the intent to commit an offense therein, unless the premises are at the time open to the public or one is licensed or invited to enter. In this case, a third degree felony burglary to a structure or conveyance began when the hooded man touched the fence of the victim’s home.
Under Florida law, there are some defenses to the crime of grand theft . In order to be properly convicted of grand theft, the State must prove one took with the intent to steal. Therefore, if one takes possession of someone else’s property with the good faith belief in the right to the property lacks the requisite intent to commit grand theft. As a result, a well-founded belief in one’s right to allegedly stolen property constitutes a complete defense to the crime of grand theft.
This defense becomes extremely important in regards to co-ownership of property. If one believes or does in fact co-own property, one cannot be properly found guilty of the grand theft of such property, unless the other co-owner has a superior legal interest that authorizes the withholding of the property.
Many times, the items stolen are resold for value. However, the resale and purchase of stolen property creates two more charges, one for the seller, and one for the buyer. According to Florida Statute 812.019, one commits dealing in stolen property if one trafficks in (the move, transfer, buying or selling of) property that one knows or should know is stolen. Basically, if one pawns or sell something that one knows is stolen, one could be charged with dealing in stolen property.
In Jacksonville, some judges can be particularly tough on theft crimes, more so than other judges. These situations can sometimes leave some first time offenders in worse situations than second or third time offenders because of the judge they come before. In these situations, one needs an experienced Jacksonville theft crimes defense attorney to mount the best defense possible, so that no matter what judge one goes before, one will have a better chance of having a more favorable set of circumstances, possibly even acquittal.
The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for years and is here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one requires a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.
Additional Sources: Personal watercraft theft in Hollywood caught on videoIhosvani Rodriguez, Sun Sentinel