Florida Man Sentenced To Five Years Probation For Being “Lookout” In Copper Wire Theft

Gabriel Alvarez of Miami pleaded guilty to burglary and conspiracy for taking copper from a vacant Muhlenberg Township warehouse on Oct. 20, 2011. Alvarez was caught up in a multimillion-dollar criminal enterprise involving thefts of industrial copper wire in at least six states. A total of 11,800 pounds of copper valued at $103,000 was taken during that burglary and another on July 25, 2011, from an unconnected warehouse. The Assistant District Attorney asked the Judge to sentence Alvarez to up to 23 months in county prison followed by five years of probation. However, the Judge granted probation only because Alvarez only rode along in the truck from Miami and acted as a lookout.

In Florida theft cases, there are many parts that one can play. One can be the main thief or one can be the getaway driver. These levels of involvement play into one’s level of punishment in the criminal system. These differences come in the classifications of Accomplices, Accessories, Aiders and Abettors, and Principals. Article_229403803.jpg

The main actor in a theft crime is normally considered the principal the persons assisting in the crime are known as accomplices. Technically, an accomplice is one who intentionally helps another to commit a crime. Even if one does not carry out the crime, in the eyes of the law the if one has given any pre-crime assistance, that makes one just as guilty as the person who does the deed itself. To be convicted of being an accomplice, the State must prove that one intentionally aided in the commission of a crime. This means the State must prove one realized the principal was going to commit a crime and that one intended to help the crime succeed.

To distinguish the criminal culpability of the different levels of accomplice liability, there are specialized terms for the levels of liability involved depending on one’s status of accomplice. To be charged as a principal, the State must prove one was the person who actually carried out a crime. In order to be charged as an aider and abettor, the State must prove one was a helper who was present at a crime scene but in a passive role, such as acting as a “lookout.”

Many times, outside help in a crime comes after the crime has already been committed. To be charged as an accessory after the fact, the State must prove one knew that a felon has finished committing a crime and helps the felon avoid arrest or trial. Remember, many times, the crime committed must be a felony; a misdemeanor many times will not meet the charge and must therefore be dismissed. Accessories after the fact face far less punishment than accomplices or principals.

The arrest for stealing copper may come with felony charges in this situation; however, the level of involvement has to be considered when rendering punishment. Many times, the State operated legal system overexerts itself on criminal defendants, particularly for theft charges

In this particular case, Alvarez was being pursued by the State attorney who was clearly alleging more involvement than what Alvarez allowed himself to be before and after the completion of the crime. The evidence usually can be tricky for someone accused of theft crimes of this type. If one is under investigation or has been arrested on robbery charges, one will need to obtain an experienced Jacksonville theft crimes defense attorney to fight the case.


The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for years and are here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one require a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.

Additional Source: Florida man sentenced for role in copper theft, Mary Young, The Reading Eagle