Eight Potential Defenses to Grand Theft Charges in Florida
If you are charged with grand theft in a Florida court, your first instinct may be to ask: “What are my possible defenses?” This post will explore eight potential defenses you may want to consider and discuss with an attorney when facing a grand theft charge.
- Lack of Intent/Good Faith Belief: For the state to prevail on a grand theft conviction, it must prove that the defendant intended to deprive a person of the right to the property or appropriate the property for personal use or for use by another person. Accordingly, if a defendant can show they had a good faith belief that they either owned the property, had a possessory interest in the property, or had joint ownership of the property, this will be a complete defense to grand theft.
- Equal Ownership: Drawing from above, Florida courts have found that a co-owner of property may not be convicted of grand theft if that co-owner had equal or greater interest in the property at issue.
- Mistake of Fact: Similar to the previous two defenses, it is considered a defense to grand theft if the defendant mistakenly believed the property they took was their own property.
- Property Has No Value: Grand theft is defined as the unlawful taking of property worth more than three hundred dollars. If a piece of property can be argued to have no value, a person cannot be convicted of grand theft for taking it.
- Lawful Taking: A defendant will have a defense to a grand theft charge if they lawfully used or took property of another. Similarly, if a defendant can prove they believed they had the legal right to use or take property of another, this will also serve as a defense.
- Voluntary Abandonment: Under Florida law, it is a defense to grand theft to abandon the attempt to commit the grand theft if it appears from the circumstances that the defendant consciously, completely and voluntarily renounced their criminal purpose without prompting from outside causes. However, it should be noted that in contrast, involuntary abandonment wherein a defendant abandons the theft because of unanticipated circumstances is not a defense.
- Necessity or Duress: In rare cases, a defendant may be able to establish a necessity or duress defense if the defendant reasonably believed a danger or emergency existed that threatened imminent and impending significant harm to defendant or another person and the defendant has no reasonable means to avoid the danger except by committing the grand theft. In addition to these requirements, the defendant would have to show that the harm he or she sought to avoid outweighed the harm caused by the theft.
- The Property Owner Consented: A defendant’s belief that they had the property owner’s consent to take or use the property will be considered a defense.
Contact An Experienced Winter Park, Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer Today for Help
If you have been arrested or charged with grand theft in Winter Park, Florida, you need to hire an experienced, local criminal defense attorney, like the criminal defense lawyers of Cotter & Zelman, P.A. Our knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers can help you understand your possible defenses to build the strongest case possible. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.