Switch to ADA Accessible Website
Orlando Criminal Lawyer

How Does the State Prove the Value of Stolen Property in a Theft Case?


If you are familiar at all with criminal law, you probably have heard the phrase “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This is the legal burden of proof that a prosecutor must meet to secure a defendant’s conviction. This standard applies to every element of alleged crime. And depending on the nature of the charge, there may be several elements, failure to prove any one of which must lead to a defendant’s acquittal.

Florida Appeals Court Reduces Felony Theft Conviction to Misdemeanor

Take this recent case from the Florida First District Court of Appeal, Devenish v. State. Prosecutors in Leon County charged the defendant with several crimes, including grand theft of property valued at $300 or more. Crimes involving theft are usually classified based on the value of the stolen property. In this case, the defendant argued at trial that the prosecution failed to present sufficient evidence related to the value of the stolen property, and as such he was entitled to an acquittal on that charge.

The judge denied the motion and the court ultimately found the defendant guilty of grand theft. On appeal, however, the First District agreed with the defendant that there was insufficient evidence presented to prove the value of the stolen property beyond a reasonable doubt. Florida law defines the “value” of property in a theft case to mean either “the market value of the property at the time and place of the offense,” or if that value cannot be determined, then the “cost of replacement of the property within a reasonable time after the offense.”

In this case, the prosecution relied solely on the property owner’s testimony regarding what he paid when he purchased the stolen property in question. He also provided photographs of the property. The appeals court said that was insufficient to prove the property’s value “at the time and place of the offense.” After all, property depreciates in value after it is purchased. The First District therefore said the prosecution should have introduced evidence “establishing the amount of depreciation in value” after the owner purchased the items in question.

Consequently, the prosecution did not prove the defendant guilty of grand theft beyond a reasonable doubt. The First District instead directed the trial court to enter a new judgment convicting the defendant of the lesser offense of petit theft.

Contact Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Jose Baez Today

The difference between grand and petit theft is not insignificant. Grand theft is a third-degree felony, while petit theft is a misdemeanor. It should also be noted the case above was decided under an earlier version of Florida’s grand theft statute. Under current law, the threshold for grand theft is now $750. But the prosecution’s burden of proof with respect to establishing the value of stolen property remains unchanged.

If you are accused of theft or any other serious offense and need representation from an experienced Orlando criminal defense lawyer, contact the Baez Law Firm today to schedule a consultation.





  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

Miami Office

1200 Brickell Avenue, Suite 1410
Miami, FL 33131
Office: 305-999-5100
Fax: 305-999-5111

Orlando Office

250 N Orange Ave, Suite 750
Orlando, FL 32801
Office: 407-705-2626
Fax: 407-705-2625

Email Us

Fields Marked * Are required

DISCLAIMER: Completing and submitting this form or otherwise merely contacting The Baez Law Firm or any individual at the firm will not establish an attorney/client relationship. Our firm cannot represent you until we determine that there would be no conflict of interest and that we are otherwise able to accept representation of your case. Please do not send any information or documents until a formal attorney/client relationship has been established through an interview with an attorney and you have been given authorization in the form of an engagement letter with The Baez Law Firm. Any information or documents sent via this form or otherwise prior to your receipt of an engagement letter will not be treated as confidences, secrets, or protected information of any nature. Submitting information regarding your potential case will not bar The Baez Law Firm from representing or continuing to represent a person or entity whose interest are adverse to your in condition with your case.

protected by reCAPTCHA Privacy - Terms
Please review the highlighted fields. They are required.
DISCLAIMER: This website contains information about The Baez Law Firm that includes testimonial statements from persons who are familiar with the firm's services. The testimonials shown are not necessarily representative of every person's experience with us. Testimonials from every client are not provided. As no two situations or persons are identical, the facts and circumstances of your situation may differ from those for which testimonials are shown. This website also includes information about some of the past results that we have obtained for our clients. Not all results are provided, and the results shown are not necessarily representative of all results obtained by us. No two situation are exactly alike; every person's situation is unique and the outcome for each person depends on the individual facts.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.
MileMark Media - Practice Growth Solutions

© 2015 - 2024 Baez Law Firm. All rights reserved.
This law firm website and legal marketing are managed by MileMark Media.

Contact Form Tab Contact Form Tab