Early Morning Scooter Thefts On The Rise In South Florida Campuses

Sarasota Police are investigating numerous scooter thefts between January and April 2013 in the area south of USF Sarasota-Manatee and New College of Florida. Investigators say the most of the thefts have occurred in the residential areas east of N. Tamiami Trail, between 18th Street and Mecca Drive, during the morning hours when the scooters or mopeds have been parked in front of homes. The thieves will reportedly break the lock, take it with them and push the scooter away — leaving no evidence at the scene.

Florida Statute 812.014 states theft of a motor vehicle is grand theft. Grand theft occurs when an individual knowingly and intentionally obtains or uses property of another without the victim’s consent or knowledge of a value over $300.00. Theft may also be the act of depriving the victim the right to the property or the ability to benefit from the property.

Grand Theft Auto in most instances third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in state prison. If the car or other motor vehicle is valued at more than $20,000, the crime becomes a second-degree felony, punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.

A grand theft auto conviction will also result in a suspension of your drivers license. The suspension is up to six months for the first conviction and one year for subsequent convictions. The court can also impose a fine up to twice the value of the stolen property.

Under Florida law, the charge of grand theft requires the State to prove one took possession with the intent to steal. In the case of a person who takes possession with the good faith belief in the right to the property lacks the required intent to commit grand theft. Therefore, a well-founded belief in one’s right to allegedly stolen property constitutes a complete defense to the crime of grand theft.

A good example of such good faith belief can be seen in the following possible grand theft auto case: One sees a scooter parked on the street while driving home, finds an ad for another one and buys an identical scooter from a dealer who has a series of these scooters. One takes it home, parks it on the street, and goes to bed. In the meantime, the neighbor sees the scooter, who has one just like it. The neighbor does not know that one bought a scooter, and thinking that his 16 year old son parked it on the street and left it, pushes it into his garage to get it out of the elements. Technically, the neighbor would be guilty of theft; however, the neighbor has a defense of good faith belief that the scooter is in fact his.

Another common defense used in grand theft auto cases is the defense of equal ownership.
Many times, couples, parents and children will jointly own a vehicle, or in some cases, a parent may gift a vehicle to a son or daughter, even after their teenage years. Falling outs sometimes occur and normally, someone gets in the car and leaves the scene. The other angry party sometimes will call police and claim that the individual stole their car. However, a co-owner of property cannot be held guilty of the grand theft of that property unless the other co-owner has a superior legal interest that authorizes the withholding of the property. Therefore, a charge of grand theft auto would not hold.

One has one choice of relief in a situation like this. One charged with a crime of this nature should contact an experienced Jacksonville auto theft crimes defense attorney to fight the case and ensure one’s rights and defenses are known and protected. One can either sit back and wait for the Judge to render a decision against one, or one can take charge of one’s defense and win one’s cause for freedom.

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: Scooter thefts rise in area south of two Sarasota colleges, Kristin Weber, WTSP.com

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