My former employer hasn’t paid me for all the time he owes me. Can I keep the supplies that he gave me to make up for it?
No, that is theft. The law does not allow you to use “self-help.” There are ways, either through court or certain government agencies, to enforce your pay complaints. Keeping someone else’s property is not allowed and is against the criminal law.
How can it be theft, if he gave it to me in the first place?
Theft is defined in Florida as obtaining, using, or even attempting to obtain or use property that belongs to someone else. You were given possession of the property to do your job for him. Once the job is over, you are depriving him of his property and it is a crime.
I bought a boat from a friend and it turns out it was stolen. The police are threatening to charge me with Theft, but I didn’t steal it. Can they do this?
Yes, if you had reason to believe the boat was stolen and you bought it anyway, you are guilty of theft. Possession of recently stolen property allows the police to presume that you knew it was stolen unless you can give a reasonable explanation of how you came to be in possession of it. If your friend gave you a deal that was too good to be true, that would also raise an inference that you knew it was stolen. It is not necessary that you be the one to steal something to be guilty of theft of the item. The state only need prove that you obtained or used it when you knew or should have known that it was stolen.
My son was a passenger in a stolen car. Is he guilty of grand theft auto?
No. As strange as it may seem, Florida courts have held that a passenger who accepts a ride in a car, even if he knows it was stolen, is not guilty of theft of that car. However, if your son was with the thief when it was stolen or otherwise participated in the stealing, then he could be convicted of grand theft auto.
Randall Grantham is an attorney with offices located in Pasco County, Florida. The above FAQ are intended to be for general informational purposes only and are NOT to be construed as legal advice. If you have any specific questions on these or any other criminal law issues, you should consult an attorney of your choice.