Switch to ADA Accessible Website
Orlando Criminal Lawyer

What Inferences Can A Florida Jury Make In A Stolen Property Case?


We all know that theft is a crime. You cannot take someone else’s property without their consent. Along similar lines, it is also a crime to sell or “deal in” stolen property. Under Florida law, anyone who “traffics in, or endeavors to traffic in, property that he or she knows or should know was stolen” is guilty of a second-degree felony.

Florida Appeals Court Reverses Theft of Stolen Property Conviction

In certain cases, a judge may instruct the jury that it can make certain “inferences” about a defendant’s knowledge that property was stolen based on the evidence presented at trial. For example, if there is proof that the property was bought or sold “at a price substantially below the fair market value,” the jury may infer the property was stolen unless the defense offered a “satisfactory” explanation.

Of course, this inference is only appropriate when the prosecution managed to establish the fair market value of the property in the first place. This step is overlooked more often than you might think. Indeed, it came up in a recent decision from the Florida Second District Court of Appeal, Cintron v. State. In this case, the appeals court reversed a conviction for dealing in stolen property based on two improper inference instructions given to the jury.

The first involved the aforementioned fair-market value instruction. The prosecution accused the defendant of stealing work tools from another person’s van and then trying to sell them over the Internet. The victim himself answered the ad and arranged to complete the sale in a Wal-Mart parking lot. The agreed-upon price was $800. The defendant testified that he had purchased the tools from a stranger and was simply trying to make a “quick buck” reselling them.

As noted above, the trial judge instructed the jury it could infer the tools were bought and sold at below fair market value and credit that as proof the defendant knew they were stolen. But as the Second District explained, the only evidence of value was the victim’s own rough estimate of the total value of the tools. He did not account for depreciation or the quality of the used tools. As such, the appeals court agreed with the defendant that the jury “had no viable method to legally conclude the price [the defendant] paid was substantially below the fair market value.”

The Second District also agreed with the defense that the judge improperly instructed the jury it could infer the defendant knew the tools were stolen because he was a “dealer in property” who purchased the items “out of the regular course of business.” This instruction is meant to apply to individuals such as pawnbrokers who regularly deal in property and would know if an item was suspicious or stolen. The defendant here, however, was not such a dealer. Rather, as he testified, he was simply trying to sell some tools he had purchased to make a few extra dollars. That did not make him a “dealer in property.”

Contact Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyer Jose Baez Today

Theft and related crimes can lead to serious felony charges. So if you have been arrested or charged, you need to work with an experienced Orlando criminal defense attorney who will zealously represent you in court. Contact the Baez Law Firm today to schedule a free 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