Theft / Fraud Defense Lawyer
Because of the tourist industry and elderly population, Florida takes a hard line on fraud cases. Taking any object without the permission of the owner may be considered a form of theft, and overzealous prosecutors have been known to seek criminal penalties for as little as a stolen pack of gum. For theft of more valuable items, such as computers, cars, or larger scale crimes such as bribery, RICO conspiracies, and corruption, Florida prosecutors are looking for any reason to slam a defendant with the most severe consequences.
The Florida theft defense attorney at Nichols Law has more than 30 years of experience litigating cases in Florida, including ten years as a prosecutor. Our criminal defense legal team knows the law, the players, and the system, and we know how to push back against unsupported charges and severe punishments. We know how serious any criminal charge can be for our clients, and we do everything in our power to protect their rights, their futures, and their freedom.
Defenses to Fraud Cases
An experienced defense attorney knows there are many effective defenses to fraud charges. For example, we work to show that the real value of an item is actually less than the inflated value claimed by the prosecutor. We also can show that an allegation of fraud is really just a civil dispute, rather than a criminal case. In cases of fake credit cards or checks, we look for evidence that the client did not realize their payment was fraudulent. In computer fraud cases, our team includes experienced forensic computer engineers to analyze the technical data involved. Each case is unique and an older experienced defense attorney can identify and develop the defense to deflect those unique allegations against you. At Nichols Law, we pride ourselves on our ability to develop the most effective defenses for your particular set of facts.
Punishments for Florida Theft Crimes
A person is guilty of Florida’s base crime of theft, found in Florida Statutes Section 812.014, when the defendant Knowingly obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or to use, the property of another with the intent to deprive the owner of their rights to the property or to use the property to their benefit against the wishes of the owner. The severity of the charges and the corresponding penalties for theft crimes in Florida generally turn on the value of the property stolen, as well as whether there are any aggravating factors such as the use of weapons or violence. Florida recently raised the loss amount for a grand theft from $300.00 to $750.00. Anything below $750.00 is now a misdemeanor petit theft… anything above that can be charged as felony grand theft.
Grand Theft can be charged as a first-degree felony if the property is worth more than $100,000 (or $50,000 for certain types of property), if the defendant caused significant property damage in the process, or if certain other conditions are met. Stealing property valued between $20,000 and $100,000, or stealing from a law enforcement emergency vehicle, is typically chargeable as a second degree felony. Stealing anything worth more than $750 is punishable as a third degree felony, with varying penalties depending on the value of the property taken and other special criteria.
- First Degree felonies are punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
- Second Degree felonies are punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
- Third Degree felonies are punishable by up to five years in prison.
Theft crimes also encompass large scale criminal enterprises. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act is used in state and federal court and significantly enhances the penalty for ongoing criminal organizations, such as gangs or the mafia. RICO also allows the government to charge multiple defendants together as a group, and pin each person’s individual crime on one another as part of a collective conspiracy. If you have been looped into a RICO case, you need to seek the help of an experienced and effective attorney as soon as possible. With ten years of prosecutorial experience and 30 years of trial experience, you can trust Robert Nichols of Nichols Law to represent you in your RICO matter.
Call for Help Defending Against Fraud Charges
If you or someone you know has been charged with theft or fraud, the passionate and dedicated South Florida theft criminal defense team at Nichols Law is ready to hear your case. With more than 50 years of litigation experience, we provide efficient and compassionate legal representation and advice to criminal defendants accused of theft crimes in Florida. Call us today at 954-779-3313 for a free consultation, or fill out our contact form online. We are here to help protect your reputation, your freedom, and your future.