In the last five years, Florida residents have experienced severe hurricane seasons. Nearly every summer, Florida residents worry about evacuations and making their homes hurricane proof. In addition to worrying about physical safety, Florida residents also worry about hurricane looting and theft. While Hurricane Dorian descended on the eastern United States, the police were out in large numbers in an attempt to prevent looting and theft.
Experienced Florida Defense Attorneys
At Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law, we represent defendants in criminal matters throughout Orlando and the surrounding areas. If you have been charged with a burglary or theft crime, we can help. The penalties for looting or committing theft during a state of emergency are more severe than in normal circumstances. Contact our Central Florida criminal defense law firm today to schedule your free initial consultation.
Those Who Commit Crimes During a State of Emergency Face Enhanced Penalties
Police have already arrested several residents for looting and theft during Hurricane Dorian. Police found three men stealing sandbags from a construction site. Many Florida police officers patrol Florida streets during evacuations. The Volusia County Sheriff’s office issued many warnings that prosecutors pursue enhanced penalties for crimes committed during a state of emergency.
When the Florida governor declares a state of emergency, theft crimes may become classified as one degree higher in severity. If someone commits a second-degree grand theft crime, they will face a first-degree charge of grand theft. Defendants only face enhanced charges when the state of emergency facilitated their crime.
In other words, the state of emergency must give the defendant the opportunity to commit the crime. If someone knows that houses in his or her neighborhood because of evacuation and breaks into those houses because they are empty, the state of emergency facilitated his crime. In this case, the defendant could face an enhanced criminal charge and sentence.
Categories of Florida Theft Crimes
Florida criminal laws separate theft crimes into two categories — petit theft and grand theft. Florida defines theft as taking the property of another person with the intent to permanently or temporarily deprive that person of the right to the property or appropriate the property. Petit theft is the unlawful taking of any property valued at less than $750. Petit theft of the second degree requires that the defendant take property worth less than $100.
Defendants convicted of petit theft of the second degree may receive penalties any combination of six months in jail, a fine of $500 or six months of probation. If the defendant had a prior theft conviction or take property valued between $100 and $750, he or she may face a year in jail, a year of probation, or a fine of up to $1,000.
Florida divides grand theft into three different degrees. A charge of grand theft of the first degree is extremely serious. The sentence for this crime can include a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of up to 30 years.
If You are Facing a Florida Theft Crime Charge, We can Help
Facing a theft crime charge is serious, especially if the alleged crime occurred during a state of emergency. Our experienced Orlando criminal defense attorneys can skillfully advocate on your behalf. Contact our law office today to set up your free initial consultation.