You May Have Been Charged with Grand Theft But Can the Prosecutor Prove It?

        According to Florida statute section 812.014, it is a third-degree felony in Florida for a person to steal property that is valued at $300.00 or more but less than $5,000.00.  Although this law is perfectly straightforward, prosecutors sometimes have trouble actually proving that the stolen property had a value of at least $300.00 on the date it was stolen.

        For example, in the case of Sellers v. State of Florida, the victim testified that the stolen property was “ 'probably about $500' then stated that including the clothing (that was also stolen), it was 'at least $800 and probably more . . . probably add another $100 on top of that.' She admitted that she did not 'itemize all the clothing' that she was valuing at $400."

        The court of appeal ruled that such evidence "was insufficient to prove the value of the property in this case because the value was estimated and no other proof was presented."  The court went on to say that "[t]he victim's testimony was an approximation at best, and the [prosecutor] also failed to elicit any testimony as to the condition of the property at the time of the theft, thereby failing to establish the total market value of the items taken."

        If you have been charged with grand theft and are planning on taking your case to trial, be especially mindful of whether or not the prosecutor can actually prove the value of the property that you are accused of having stolen.

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