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Theft Offenses

Theft crimes include a wide range of offenses including:

• Burglary, attempted burglary
• Robbery, armed robbery, attempted robbery
• Dealing in stolen property
• Carjacking
• Bribery
• Counterfeiting, forgery, uttering a forged instrument
• Fraud offenses, including insurance fraud & organized fraud
• Shoplifting
• Identity theft, credit card theft
• Worthless/bad check offense
• White collar crime

Burglary

Many people are confused about what constitutes a burglary as opposed to a robbery. Burglary is the illegal entry of a building with intent to commit a theft, also known as a "break in". Burglary does not need property damage to be considered as such; if someone enters through an unlocked door or window with the intent to commit a theft, it is still considered burglary, called 'non-forcible entry'. Conversely, 'forcible entry' is when a window, door, wall or roof is forced open or broken and/or when tools are used to assist in the break-in. 'Attempted forcible entry,' is when a burglar attempts to enter but is deterred before access is acquired. Car break-ins are normally considered larcenies.

Robbery

Robbery is the taking or attempting to take something of value from another person using threats, force or intimidation; there must be the presence of the victim. Robbery is also known as a holdup, mugging or stickup. Robbery is often divided into different degrees, depending upon whether a weapon was used or if there was an accomplice, as well as state-by-state differences. All robbery is considered a felony by law, regardless of the state. Aggravated robbery is when a suspect makes a victim believe that he has a deadly weapon by displaying a weapon, stating that he has a weapon or displaying something that seems to be a weapon.

Dealing in Stolen Property

The general definition of dealing in stolen property is 'offering, selling or trafficking property that the suspect knew, or should have known, was stolen. There are different levels at which this crime may be committed with correspondingly stricter penalties for more serious crimes. Merely dealing in property that has been stolen is not an offense; it becomes a criminal act when one deals in stolen property knowing it has been stolen.

Although a defendant may be charged with both theft and dealing in stolen property, s/he may only be found guilty of one of these crimes, not both.

A few examples of dealing in stolen property crime are:
• Using the Internet to deal in stolen property – this may be a misdemeanor or felony offense
• Trafficking stolen property – normally a 2nd degree felony, punishable by a sentence of up to 15 years and/or a fine up to $10,000
• Organizing or financing an operation that deals in stolen property – 1st degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000

Carjacking

Carjacking is a form of hijacking, where the crime is stealing a motor vehicle and may also be considered armed assault if the vehicle is occupied. In 1992, a law was passed in the U.S., making carjacking a federal crime. The perpetrator of a carjacking is subject to imprisoned of not more than 15 years, a fine or both. However, if serious bodily injury results from the carjacking, the prison sentence increases to not more than 25 years. Should a carjacking result in a death of the driver or passenger in the car, prison sentences can even be for life.

Bribery

Bribery is defined as offering, promising or agreeing to the exchange of money, services or goods for the purpose of influencing a public official's performance of his or her duty. A common example is when a driver tries to bribe a law enforcement officer to get out of a traffic ticket. In Florida, for example, bribery of a public official (this includes a judge or even a juror) is considered a 2nd degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000. You should also know that the actual exchange of money or services is not necessarily needed for a conviction; the offer or attempt of a bribe is often enough for a conviction of bribery.

Counterfeiting, Forgery, Uttering a Forged Instrument

Counterfeiting refers to creating phony money or other important, legal documents. It can also refer making such bogus items as designer purses, watches, jewelry, artwork and such documents as prescription blanks, medical documents, bank documents and IDs such as passports and driver's licenses. The term uttering a forged instrument sounds confusing; it means the following. Forging a document is signing someone else's name to a document, say it is a check. If you then give that check to another party who then cashes it, that is considered 'uttering'. Putting counterfeit money into the system is also considered 'uttering'. Counterfeiting, forgery and uttering are punishable under both state and federal law.

Fraud Offenses

Fraud offense is a type of theft that is perpetrated by intentional deception. Since it involves secretive means of deceiving clients or others from their money or goods, often in a business or political venue, fraud is usually considered a non-violent or white collar crime. Penalties for fraud-related offenses range from fines to more than 30 years in prison.

Types of fraud include:
• Insurance fraud - insurance fraud involves defrauding an insurance company by making a deceptive claim or by destroying one's own property to collect insurance money. Insurance fraud may be committed in regards to such insurance as automobile insurance, homeowner's insurance, life insurance and medical insurance.

• Organized fraud - fraud committed by creating schemes that conceal the sender's identity and send the target a personalized sales message. Those accused of organized fraud will be prosecuted under federal wire fraud and mail fraud statutes, making it a criminal offense to defraud using telephone, Internet, TV, radio or U.S. mail.

• Bankruptcy and tax fraud
• Employment Fraud
• Government Fraud
• Check Fraud
• Credit Card and identity fraud
• Healthcare Fraud
• Mortgage Fraud
• Computer/Internet fraud
• Securities Fraud

Shoplifting

Shoplifting is the theft of merchandise from a store or business establishment. Although shoplifting may be prosecuted under general larceny statutes, many states have established a specific category for shoplifting that entails the willful taking and/or concealing unbought goods without paying for them. Possession or concealment of goods usually covers action both in and outside the premises. To enable store owners to regain some of their losses, many states have enacted civil recovery or civil demand statutes, by which retailers are able to seek restitution from shoplifters. Criminal prosecution is not a prerequisite to a civil demand request. Typically, an attorney for a victimized business demands a statutorily set compensation in a letter to the offender. If an offender does not respond favorably to the civil demand letter, the retailer may bring an action in Small Claims Court.

Worthless/Bad Checks

Worthless or bad checks (the terms are interchangeable) are checks that the defendant knows do not have the necessary funds to cover payment but still issues them. Writing a bad check can be very serious, especially when the intended recipient is a governmental agency. It is a criminal offense to draw, issue, make or deliver a check or other written money order, or to use a debit card, for payment when the issuer knows there are insufficient funds to cover the payment. It is also not legal to stop payment on a check with the intent to defraud the person or institution to which it was issued. Although state laws may vary, in Florida, issuing a worthless check worth under $150 is a 1st degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Issuing a bad check worth $150 or more is a 3rd degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000. The recipient of a worthless check may file a formal notice to the issuer of the check, demanding full payment of the amount of the check; if the issuer does not pay within the time limit he may be liable for both criminal and civil charges.

Identity Theft & Credit Card Theft

In most states, identity theft laws make it a crime to misuse another person's identifying information, whether personal or financial. Such data, including social security numbers, credit history and PINs, is often acquired through the suspect's unlawful access to information from government and financial entities or through lost or stolen mail, wallets and purses, identification and credit/debit cards. In 1998, Congress passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, creating a new offense of identity theft. This offense normally carries a maximum term of 15 years' imprisonment, a fine and criminal forfeiture of any personal property used or intended to be used to commit the offense. Credit card fraud/theft is a term for theft and fraud committed using a credit card or any similar payment mechanism as a fraudulent source of funds in a transaction. The purpose may be to obtain goods without paying, or to obtain unauthorized funds from an account. Credit card fraud is similar to identity theft and carries similar criminal penalties.

White Collar Crime

White-collar crime is related to corporate crime since the opportunity for fraud, bribery, insider trading, embezzlement, computer crime, copyright infringement, money laundering, identity theft and forgery is easily available to so-called white-collar employees. Categories of white collar crime include:
• Embezzlement
• Medicare/Medicaid/healthcare fraud
• Banking, real estate or mortgage fraud
• Conspiracy to commit fraud
• Money laundering
• Mail/Internet fraud
• RICO (Racketeering Influenced & Corrupt Organization Act)

The FBI defines white-collar crime as "those illegal acts which are characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust and which are not dependent upon the application or threat of physical force or violence". White collar crime is estimated to cost the United States more than $300 billion annually. White collar crimes can be prosecuted on either the state or federal level, depending on the type of law that was broken. Penalties for white collar crime vary, but convictions usually result in jail time, large fines and restitution to the victims of the crime.

The average sentence for fraud is 12 months; for embezzlement, 9.9 months; bribery, 16.2 months; tax offenses, 16.6 months; antitrust fraud, 12.7 months and money laundering, 46.3 months. Although actual prison sentences may not be high, perpetrators of white collar crimes are further punished by forfeiting their assets, relinquishing incriminating information about personal and professional associates and sacrificing their rights to have business within the government or corporate world, as well as often severely and permanently damaging the offender's reputation and loss of professional and personal credibility.

If you have been arrested for any of these types of theft crime, it is imperative that you are represented by a strong lawyer with knowledge, experience and aggressive criminal skills who specializes in criminal theft cases. That is why you need a skilled lawyer like Williams. For your free and confidential consultation, call 386-290-0622. This is your life; don't settle for anything but the best when it comes to your legal representation. 


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