The National Church of God, a South Florida church hit by thieves for the second time in a matter of month, held church services in the sweltering heat this weekend. Despite lack of air conditioning, the members held services on Sunday, with every window and door open and the fans running. Members of the churched first realized their air conditioning was not working earlier in the week, during Thursday’s service, and upon further investigation, discovered the air conditioning unit was gone.
An air conditioning unit can be essential to one’s comfort in the home. For many, air conditioning can be costly and the units themselves are quite expensive. Many times, thieves will steal those air conditioning units in order to make a quick but many times heft buck, either selling the unit as a whole or selling it in parts. Many times, the target of these sorts or crimes are old, abandoned, or temporarily unoccupied buildings, such as churches or other buildings that are only occupied on certain days of the week. Thieves will take air conditioning units for the copper wire, steel appliances, or other valuable metal that the thieves can find.
The crime of Dealing in Stolen Property in Florida, also known as Fencing, involves the buying and selling of property that one knows, or should know was stolen. The mere buying of property one know or should have known was stolen does not establish one was dealing in Stolen Property if there is no evidence that one intended to resell the property; however, one can still be convicted of either Grand Theft or Petit Theft for this knowledge.
. In the past, people could sell old units to salvage yards without question because of the value, and the salvage yards would break the A/C unit down and sell the parts or the metal. When selling an air conditioning unit to a junkyard, there need be no proof of title shown, making one question the legitimacy of the transaction, because one may be quickly selling stolen units to a junkyard. Many will sound the alarm to police. Others will turn their head. Task forces have been created in order to battle this ever popular and lucrative crime of metal theft.
Jacksonville police also use Craigslist and other communication forms as a way to investigate these crimes by going after those who advertise buying and selling air condition units, lawn mowers, and other easily stolen items that one has an unusual quantity of. Many of these advertisements, particularly regarding selling title-less cars on websites such as Craigslist are now against the law due to the recent change in the law.
In addition to the pretrial and trial defenses that an experienced attorney could raise in any criminal case, a specific defense to the crime of Dealing in Stolen Property is the defense of satisfactory explanation. In general, a person cannot be convicted of Dealing in Stolen Property if the person can satisfactorily explain how they came to be in possession of the stolen property without knowing that it was stolen.
In Jacksonville, someone could buy an air conditioning unit from a friend who works for an air conditioning company, but unfortunately, the friend stole the unit from his work. Just because one is in possession of stolen, does not mean that one necessarily dealt in it. The charge can be particularly tough to understand for many and may end in a more severe punishment than others, depending on the judge. 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: Church holds services despite AC theft, WSVN.com