INVESTIGATION LEADS TO ARREST AND RESIGNATION
According to a report, a Jacksonville firefighter has resigned his employment following his arrest for petit theft. Firefighter Joshua Williams was arrested on November 22, 2016, subsequent to an investigation by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Integrity Unit. Williams was assigned to a “tactical support unit” keeping himself busy delivering supplies to various fire stations around town. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office had received a complaint regarding several thefts of money at different fire stations throughout town. It was determined that Williams had been present at the various stations where the money came up missing. Police set up a sting operation by placing cash inside a fire station’s kitchen area. The kitchen area was placed under video surveillance. Williams made a delivery to this station and upon his departure it was determined that $167.00 of cash placed in the kitchen by the police integrity unit was missing. Police detained Williams at a nearby gas pump and located the missing $167.00.
A common tactic used by Law Enforcement is to “Mark the Bills” or record the serial numbers on cash used in sting operations. It is especially common in narcotics related investigations where law enforcement purchases illegal narcotics from a drug dealer. When the drug dealer is arrested the goal is to catch him or her with the same dollar bills handed over by law enforcement. In the case of Williams, the integrity unit photocopied the bills’ serial numbers before placing them inside of the station’s kitchen. Since serial numbers are unique, the integrity unit can now show that Williams possessed the stolen money from within the Station’s Kitchen.
AMOUNT OR ITEM STOLEN TYPICALLY DICTATES THE CHARGE
There are several different types of theft charges in the State of Florida governed by Florida State Statute Chapter 812. The most common are Petit Theft and Grand Theft. Often times the difference between the charge being a Felony Theft Charge or Misdemeanor Theft Charge is the amount of money the item is valued at or what particular item was stolen. In Florida if the amount stolen is valued at more than $300.00 the charge involved is Grand Theft, a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in Florida State Prison. If the amount is valued at $100.00 or more but less than $300.00 the charge involved is a Petit Theft, a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in the County Jail. If the amount involved is less than $100.00 the charge is Petit Theft, a second degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in the County Jail. Certain items stolen are automatically considered Grand Theft regardless of the amount the item is worth. For example if someone were to steal a firearm, regardless of the value, the individual could face a felony Grand Theft charge.In the case of Williams, he faces a first degree misdemeanor Petit Theft based on the amount of cash stolen totaling $167.00. It is not known if the Integrity Unit placed more cash inside of the kitchen in an attempt to have Williams steal a felony amount which would be $300.00 or more.
ENHANCEMENTS BASED ON PRIORS
If you or a loved one are ever being investigated, have been arrested, or charged with any theft related crime it is important to contact a lawyer immediately. Even a first offense can drastically affect your future. It is often times difficult to find employment after an arrest or conviction for a theft crime as your potential employer will certainly lack trust in you. Also the Florida State Statues build in enhancements based on prior convictions for theft crimes. For example anyone who commits a petit theft who has been previously convicted of any theft commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, regardless of the amount. If you previously have been convicted of a theft and are currently charged with stealing a pack of gum, you technically could be facing one year in the county jail. If you commit a petit theft and have two or more previous convictions for theft, you can now be charged with a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in Florida State Prison. That same pack of gum can now result in five years of prison. This is why regardless if it is your first arrest, it is important to sit down with competent legal counsel to ensure your future is not in jeopardy. A conviction related to any type of theft can follow you the rest of your life. In the event the State of Florida brings the charges forward, a disposition that still entitles you to either Expunge or Seal your record needs also must be taken into consideration. Often times the Forbess Law Firm has been hired at the same time to handle the initial case as well as the Sealing and Expunging process once the case has either been dropped or resolved.
Should you, a friend or a family member have the above type of scenario at hand, consult with a Jacksonville (Duval), Nassau, Baker, Bradford, St. Johns and Clay County criminal defense attorneys. The Jacksonville based Forbess Law Firm, has handled countless numbers of theft cases involving Grand Theft, Petit Theft, Employee Theft, Schemes to Defraud, Utterings, Worthless Checks, all the way from that simple pack of gum up to extremely complex White Collar Fraud cases. We always offer a free consultation and/or jail visit and can be reached at 904-634-0900.