Like any other highly developed area, the city of Fort Lauderdale, Florida has consistent issues with theft of property from businesses and residential areas. According to the statistics provided by the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, there are approximately 10,000 property crimes in the city each year. The consequences of a criminal record for theft can be severe and affect your ability to find employment in the future. Felony theft cases also carry the potential for jail time in excess of one year. Because of the seriousness of this crime, it is important to gain some basic knowledge of the prosecution process in the local courts and get professional legal help from a criminal defense lawyer.

The use and limitations of surveillance

Many retail locations and homes now have security cameras and surveillance systems, which will create video evidence of theft and other criminal activities. Although it may seem like this would destroy the potential for any defenses against theft after someone is caught on video, the rules of evidence in place in Florida as well as the rest of the country prevent video evidence alone from sustaining a conviction without any witness testimony. Court procedural rules for evidence state that there needs to be a person who can authenticate and explain any evidence that is introduced at a criminal trial. These are called confrontation rights for defendants. Usually, a person who is responsible for monitoring the footage such as a security guard will also be required to give statements in court about what they saw, as well as the video being produced.

Common problems for prosecutors

To prove a charge of criminal theft in the state of Florida, a prosecutor must do a number of things. The most important is to have contact with the person who witnessed the theft and make sure they are physically present in court on the day of trial. If they are not available for any reason, the state cannot prove the case. There is also a common problem for prosecutors where retailers choose to send either a manager or some other employee to court who did not actually witness the crime to try to prove the crime happened. When this happens there is little the state can do to try to prove the case and it will usually be dismissed on the trial day. A strong case for the state will also require surveillance footage or some other direct evidence of the crime to prove the defendant’s guilt. However, many retailers do not keep this footage around, do not provide it to law enforcement, or it may be lost or misplaced. In these instances, the only way to prove a suspect’s guilt may be through testimony, and doing so is not always easy depending on factors such as the age of the incident. The high volume of theft cases in the statistics reported above also indicate that the State Attorney’s Office can only dedicate significant manpower to pursuing the most severe theft crimes, and many lesser theft charges do not receive a high level of attention. This means that a dedicated criminal defense lawyer usually has a strategic advantage for their client.

An experienced local attorney can help

For the best possible defense against your theft charge, contact the office of Gabriela C. Novo. She is a former Broward County prosecutor, and she knows exactly how the local State Attorney’s Office will proceed with your case. Her significant experience in the Fort Laudedale area can help you prevail.