Double Jeopardy and the Crimes of Theft and Dealing in Stolen Property

          Florida law states that "a single indictment or information may, under proper circumstances, charge theft and dealing in stolen property in connection with one scheme or course of conduct in separate counts that may be consolidated for trial, but the trier of fact may return a guilty verdict on one or the other, but not both, of the counts."

 

          In the case of Theron Toson versus the State of Florida, the issue was whether Mr. Toson could be found guilty of both grand theft and dealing in the property that was stolen in the grand theft case.  Toson argued that his conviction for both crimes violated the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy and the Florida law quoted above.

 

          Florida's Fourth District Court of Appeal agreed with Toson stating:

 

"In [this] case, the information, the [police report], and the factual basis presented, established that the grand theft and three charges of dealing in stolen property to which Toson was making his open pleas, all involved the same property stolen in the course of a burglary of Patricia Gillette's home.   Toson testified at the plea hearing, without contradiction, that he sold the stolen items in order to support his crack cocaine addiction.

 

This court, in [the case of Blair versus the State of Florida], addressed a similar fact situation.   In Blair, the information charged the defendant with stealing jewelry on one date and dealing in the same jewelry on the same date or sometime thereafter.   The [State Attorney] was unable to prove the theft of the jewelry and the dealing of the same jewelry were distinct and unrelated criminal incidents.   Our court stated as follows:

 

'While we recognize that additional acts will always be required to dispose of the property in question, the legislative purpose of the [law quoted above] is to prevent dual convictions in connection with one scheme or course of conduct.   Absent something more to purposefully interrupt the two crimes by an unquestionably disjunctive period of time or series of events, defendant's conviction for one of the offenses must be set aside' "(italics added).

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