Proving misdemeanor or felony theft in Florida requires proof of intent to deprive the owner of his or her rights to the property. Grand theft, as outlined in F.S. 812.014 is the unlawful taking or using of property valued at more than $300. But as our Fort Lauderdale defense lawyers point out, one’s intent in taking or using that property is key.
That’s why prosecutors in Citrus County recently dropped two grand theft charges against a roofing contractor initially accused of defrauding customers by taking nearly $15,000 in deposits without completing the work he promised. As the prosecutor explained to a reporter from the Citrus County Chronicle, the state attorney’s office would have had to have shown that the defendant took the customers’ down payment and in turn used it all for personal financial gain – not simply for running his business. What the evidence showed, however, was that he used the money to buy materials and contract labor for the jobs, but did not follow through in completing them.
This might tend to show the contractor was a poor business manager, but not that he’d committed theft, as understood by Florida law. Continue reading