Justified Forfeiture or Stolen Money by Police.

Under federal law and Florida State law, a forfeiture is justified if the government can show by evidence that the property (money) was connected to a crime (robbery).  Some states allow forfeiture based on probable cause alone, but under Florida’s civil forfeiture law, the government must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the property was related to criminal activity and therefore can be forfeited.  Florida law enforcement uses civil forfeiture at the state level and has received millions of dollars in equitable sharing  of funds generated by civil forfeiture.

With regard to forfeiture proceedings, Florida Statutes 932.704 states: ”It is the policy of this state that law enforcement agencies shall utilize the provisions of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act to deter and prevent the continued use of contraband articles for criminal purposes while protecting the proprietary interests of innocent owners and lienholders and to authorize such law enforcement agencies to use the proceeds collected under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act as supplemental funding for authorized purposes.”   The money that was stolen in the robbery would have to be proven to be related to a crime after formal proceedings before the Florida Law Enforcement personnel would be able to allocate its use.  As for the Fort Lauderdale Policeman who stole money by force during the arrest for the original theft, he will be charged with grand theft and fraud, and breaking the law as a public servant who concealed, destroyed and altered evidence negatively affecting the victim’s larceny case.

Criminal Theft and Police Misconduct. 

Florida Statutes 812 addresses theft. Criminal theft is when a person takes something without the owner’s consent and includes:

  1. Larceny – taking personal property without intending to return it.
  2. Petty theft – first degree: taking personal property greater than $100 but less than $300; second degree: taking property valued at less than $100.
  3. Grant theft – first degree: taking property from another that is worth more than $100,000.; second degree: taking property that is valued between $20,000 and $100,000; third degree: taking property valued between $300. And $20,000.
  4. Theft by conversion – unlawfully keeping someone’s property that was obtained lawfully.
  5. Theft of lost property – keeping property that someone else lost or mislaid.

Criminal theft is prosecuted by the state and if a person is found guilty, they can end up with community service, fines and/or prison time.  Police stealing under the color of law is a higher level of criminal theft categorized as criminal police misconduct.  This criminal police behavior also carries negative effects on the arrested victim because of the fraudulent paperwork filed with their case and may alter the type of charges brought against them in Broward County.  If you have been charged with larceny in the State of Florida, you should immediately seek out a criminal law attorney because the charges may be severe, and you will need to address every facet of the specific crime activity you are guilty of, and that of the arresting officer who stole from evidence, with someone who knows how to navigate through the various nuances of criminal grand theft charges in Fort Lauderdale.  Since there is a facet related to police misconduct, choosing a lawyer familiar with police brutality claims is prudent.

Punishment by Criminal Grand Theft Felony Charge.

  1. A third-degree grand theft felony can carry up to 5 years imprisonment and up to $5,000 in fines.
  2. A second-degree grand theft felony is more serious because it had “specific intent” and a defense attorney will need to disprove this in order to reduce the imposed punishment.
  3. A first-degree grand theft felony charge can impose harsh penalties including up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.

Hire a Lawyer.

It is imperative that you seek professional experienced criminal law professionals to work on your case.  It is important to note that penalties will vary from case-to-case and are dependent on the specifics of the criminal act, the amount of money that was stolen by you, and the amount of money that was forcefully taken from you by police and kept from evidence. If there was a threat of violence to the victim in the pursuit of the stolen money associated with robbery, and whether or not you have a previous criminal record.  Consequences of a grand theft charge will include long-term difficulties securing housing, employment and membership in certain community functions or political offices.  Due to the condition of the arrest and the tampering with evidence, a good lawyer may find a way to have your charges reduced.

The Law Office of Michael D. Weinstein, PA

12 Southeast 7th Street, Suite 713
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301

954-761-1420

Website: www.mdwlawfirm.com

Sources:

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0900-0999/0932/Sections/0932.704.html

https://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2018/812.133

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/242

https://www.justice.gov/crt/addressing-police-misconduct-laws-enforced-department-justice

http://www.ij.org/images/pdf_folder/other_pubs/assetforfeituretoemail.pdf