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Understanding theft by deception in Florida

Theft by deception may not involve overt action, but it can still lead to major consequences for the accused. It’s important to understand what this theft entails and how it differs from other types of theft in Florida.

Legal definitions and examples

Florida Statutes Chapter 812.014 covers theft by deception under the broader statutes dealing with theft. Examples include:

  • Contractor fraud: Contractors claiming to have completed work they did not actually perform. In some forms of contractor fraud, contractors exaggerate the cost of materials used or work performed. This ends up costing homeowners extra fees that they wouldn’t have otherwise paid.
  • Rental scams: Scammers posing as landlords or property managers in order to collect funds for properties that either do not exist or that they don’t actually own.
  • Fake charitable donations: Soliciting funds from unsuspecting donors through fake charities. These scams are particularly common during times of disaster.

In most cases, stolen property totaling $300 or less amounts to a misdemeanor. More than that and it’s prosecuted as a felony, potentially leading to more severe penalties. The bottom line? The more you steal, the more trouble you face.

Defense strategies

Defending against these charges requires demonstrating that you did not have fraudulent intent. You can also argue that you misunderstood the transaction.

Remember, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to these charges. Understanding exactly what you’re charged with and why is important. Knowledge is power–the more you know about theft by deception, the better you can fight the charge.