Dealing in Stolen Property and Pawn Shop Fraud Attorney
According to Florida Statutes and also based on my experience as a criminal defense attorney in Okaloosa County and Walton County over the years, there are multiple types of theft related charges that a prosecutor may file depending on the factual circumstances surrounding your case.
One of the most common is Dealing in Stolen Property, sometimes referred to as Dealing in Stolen Property by Trafficking. This is a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and is applicable to a situation where property that was previously stolen and was transferred to another party. However, the statute is written so broadly and liberally, that in practice, it could be charged in almost any theft related arrest.
Criminal Charges Involving Pawn Shops
In many cases involving Dealing in Stolen Property, the allegation stems from the attempt to sell or pawn a stolen item to a pawn shop. Since law enforcement basically tracks all property transactions through pawn shops, if you knowingly or unknowingly sold an item that was previously reported as stolen—to a pawn shop, then you risk being charged with Dealing in Stolen Property.
In addition, you also risk being charged with the felony of Providing False Information to a Pawn Broker. This charge is applicable to the situation where someone provides ownership information to the pawn shop during a pawn transaction that turns out to be false because of a fake ID, or intentionally providing incorrect ownership information. And the consequences can be quite severe as well. It is a third degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison if the monetary value of the pawn transaction is less than $300. And if the monetary value of the pawn transaction is $300 or more, it is classified as a second degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years.
Legal Defenses VS. Prosecutors’s Inferences And Presuptions
I have handled many Dealing in Stolen Property cases over the years, and a common consideration is that it is very difficult to prove that an item received from a third party sale was previously stolen.
A client will tell me during their consultation, “I did not know it was stolen.” And quite obviously, if you did not know the property was stolen, you would have a solid defense to the charge. However, experienced criminal attorneys know that it is not always that easy in practice.
One of the elements of dealing in stolen property is that: “the defendant endeavored to traffic in stolen property; and knew or should have known it was stolen property.” The “should have known” part of this element is what can complicate the case strategy and potential trial preparation.
While under normal circumstances regarding criminal laws, the prosecution bears the sole burden of having to prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. However, the Florida Legislature has acknowledged that these crimes may be difficult to prove at trial, so they created a series of “inferences” against the defense in order to help the prosecution.
So in the situation where a defendant should have been reasonably aware the (recently stolen) property they were in possession of came from a untrustworthy source, it would require the defendant to establish a satisfactory explanation at trial, or the jury would be instructed by the Judge that the defendant perhaps knew or should have known the property may have been stolen based on the circumstances.
If you have been arrested for Dealing in Stolen Property, Pawn Fraud, or another theft related offense in Okaloosa County or Walton County, please call Attorney Shawn Lupella for a free consultation. He has the felony experience to help you work through your charges to get the best possible result.