Pursuant to Florida Statute 812.019, it a criminal offense for “Any person who traffics in, or endeavors to traffic in, property that he or she knows or should know was stolen shall be guilty of a felony of the second degree.” A second degree felony is punishable by up to 15 years in Florida State Prison and a $10,000.00 fine. If “Any person who initiates, organizes, plans, finances, directs, manages, or supervises the theft of property and traffics in such stolen property,” the charge is upgraded to a felony of the first degree punishable by up to 30 years in Florida State Prison.
To prove the crime of dealing in stolen property in Florida, also known as fencing, the prosecution must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
(1) the defendant trafficked in or endeavored to traffic in the alleged property;
(2) the defendant knew or should have known that the alleged property was in fact stolen.
The knowledge element of the statute is often difficult for the state to prove. There is a big difference between the level of proof needed for an arrest (probable cause) and the level of proof need to sustain a conviction (beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt). It can be difficult to prove that a person was aware that the property he or she sold was stolen, and this is often where a prosecution for dealing in stolen property breaks down. If the property was not sold immediately after a theft or if a defendant paid good money for the property or was paid with the property for a debt that was owed, it is hard for the State to prove knowledge of the theft.
If you have been arrested or accused, contact a Dealing in Stolen Property Attorney in Fort Lauderdale, David J. Sobel directly at 954-383-3000 to speak about your case 24/7.