If you've been accused of theft, the legal process can be confusing and intimidating. If you don't defend yourself in court, you could face serious penalties—including jail or prison time or a permanent conviction on your record. Don't let this happen to you. Contact a qualified Fort Walton Beach theft defense attorney right away if you've been charged with a theft crime.
Charged With a Theft Crime? We Don't Judge, We Defend
You have rights, and you are innocent until proven guilty. We will advise you on your charges, what penalties you are facing, what options we have to successfully resolve your case, and what to expect from the legal system. A criminal record that brands you as a thief will follow you for the rest of your life. You need a criminal defense attorney you can rely on to protect your future. My partner Brandy Merrifield and I are ready to assist you.
Getting the Help You Need When Facing Robbery and Theft Charges
One of the most helpful things we can do for you is to let you know exactly what you're up against. Theft crimes in Florida cover a wide spectrum, ranging from a misdemeanor, such as retail theft, all the way up to serious felony charges such as robbery.
We know you're scared about what's going to happen. But don't lose hope. Do not let this criminal charge destroy your life and everything you have worked for. A theft conviction can affect your ability to earn a living in the future and provide for those who depend on you.
As your attorneys, we will argue to the judge and the prosecutor that you deserve a second chance to move forward with a clean slate. We will work together to build a defense that keeps a conviction off your record. Protecting your freedom, reputation, and career will be our top goals.
Arrested for Theft While on Vacation?
We can only imagine what a nightmare it must be to get arrested in a strange place where you don't know anyone. Obviously, you came here on vacation to have a good time with your family or friends, not to get arrested and charged with a theft crime.
We are here to help. Brandy and I can take care of your court appearances and offer full-service representation no matter how far away you live. We are fully equipped to accommodate your needs and your schedule. With Flaherty & Merrifield on the case, you can get back to your life while we work to lower your stress level.
What You Need to Know About Florida Theft Crimes
Defending local Fort Walton Beach-area residents, out-of-town visitors, and military personnel since 2001, Flaherty & Merrifield is ready to defend you if you are facing any of the following:
Restitution in Florida Theft Cases
The victim of a theft crime is entitled to be reimbursed for the loss they have suffered. This reimbursement is called restitution. The judge in your case will be looking to punish you, as well as compensate the victim for the monetary value of the property or money that was stolen or damaged.
In any case where the victim has suffered a loss, Florida Statute §775.089 states that the court must require the accused to compensate the victim for the following types of losses:
- Damage or loss caused directly or indirectly by the defendant's offense; and
- Damage or loss related to the defendant's criminal episode, unless it finds clear and compelling reasons not to order such restitution.
If a defendant is placed on probation, the law requires the court to make restitution a condition of probation. Failure to pay court-ordered restitution before your term of probation is over can be the basis for a violation of probation. If you are not placed on probation, but the court orders restitution, you have up to five years to satisfy this requirement.
Determining the Amount of Restitution
There are two types of loss that require restitution:
- Physical injury
- Loss of property
However, you will only be required to pay restitution if the victim asks for it. In other words, if they don't make a detailed claim that sets out what they are seeking, you will not be responsible for paying restitution. When the victim makes their claim, they must "back it up" with receipts, estimates, and other evidence. If they don't have documentation, we can demand a restitution hearing in court and challenge the amount the victim is seeking.
Additionally, the victim is not entitled to be enriched; they are only entitled to be reimbursed.
Potential Benefits of Paying Restitution
In some cases, paying restitution can have considerable benefits. For example, if a defendant can make restitution ahead of time, or at least make a significant payment towards that debt, a victim may be inclined to agree to a reduced charge or even a dismissal.
A word of caution: If you are the suspect or the defendant, do not attempt to "pay off" the victim on your own. This could be construed as bribery and could land you in even more trouble. Let your attorneys handle that negotiation with the prosecutor. That way, everything is done ethically and above-board. We know what it takes to get the best possible result. Trust Flaherty & Merrifield with your case and your future. You will be in very good hands.
Discuss Your Case With Our Skilled Criminal Defense Attorneys
If you have been charged with grand theft, shoplifting, burglary, credit card fraud, criminal mischief, dealing in stolen property, or robbery in Fort Walton Beach or northwest Florida, complete our contact form or call us at 850-374-6273 to schedule a free, no-obligation, confidential consultation.