Hurricane Irma, the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history is barreling its way to Florida. Governor Charlie Crist has declared that Florida is in a state of emergency. During the time of the storm you won’t see police on the roads. Security and electricity will be compromised. Homes and businesses are vulnerable to attack. As a result, you will unfortunately hear reports of thefts, burglaries and looting.
What is Looting?
Looting is theft during a declared state of emergency or natural disaster.
In Florida, when a theft crime is committed during a State of Emergency that crime is enhanced which means it is classified one degree higher. For example, Florida is in a state of emergency. Soon businesses will be closed and homes will be evacuated. Under Florida’s anti-looting law, if a home or business was broken into and property stolen then a defendant could be subject to the anti-looting enhancement. Breaking into a business is normally a third degree felony and would now be a more serious second degree felony. Under Florida’s anti-looting law, what could be charged as a low level misdemeanor can now be automatically enhanced to a higher degree misdemeanor or higher-degree felony.
Florida Statute 812.014 – Theft says:
“However, if the property stolen within a county subject to a state of emergency declared by the Governor…, the theft is committed after the declaration of the emergency is made, and the perpetration of the theft is facilitated by condition arising from the emergency, the theft is a felony of the first degree…For purposes of sentencing under Chapter 921, a felony offense that is reclassified under this paragraph is ranked one level above the ranking under s. 921.002 or 921.0023 of the offense committed.
Right now, Florida is in a state of emergency and if you find yourself charged with a looting crime our experienced Orlando criminal defense lawyers are able to help. The attorneys at Moses and Rooth will evaluate you case and aggressively defend you against your charges.
Stay safe everyone.