Bradenton Civil Theft Lawyer
Frequently, police officers only get involved in very large theft cases, like an auto theft ring, or relatively small cases, like shoplifting matters. That leaves a lot of space in between for civil theft matters. As outlined below, the structural elements of a civil and criminal theft case are pretty much the same. The biggest difference is the burden of proof. Criminal court prosecutors must establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. But in civil court, the burden of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
Whether you are accused of civil theft or attempting to protect your property rights, the thorough Bradenton civil theft lawyers at the Cahall Law Firm take the same approach. We begin each case with a conversation, so we can determine your needs and goals in a particular matter. Then, once we decide on a course of action together, we work hard to build a strong, evidence-based claim or defense. This simple approach usually produces results which exceed our clients’ expectations.
Basically, civil theft is taking the property of another without the consent of the owner. Let’s break these elements down individually.
“Taking” usually means either using property without permission or removing it entirely. When people rent property and don’t return it before the deadline, they could face civil theft charges. A brief grace period usually applies. The removed property could be something tangible, like a computer, or something intangible, like the data stored on a computer.
Owner consent is sometimes hard to establish in court. Usually, someone with a superior right of possession must provide official testimony. More on that below.
Civil judges don’t have the power to put people in jail, at least in most cases. If a party directly violates a court order, that’s a different story. However, civil judges have the power to compensate aggrieved parties. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as property loss or damage, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
The lower burden of proof makes it easier to obtain these damages. In criminal court, there must usually be a credible witness who sees the defendant steal property. But in civil court, circumstantial evidence, even if it’s not very strong, is more than enough.
Florida courts are notoriously backed up, especially in the post-coronavirus era. Most courts were effectively shut down for several months. It will take several years to work through that backlog. So, by the time the trial date comes around, the property’s listed owner could be nowhere to be found. That’s especially true if, as is commonly the case, court documents list a manager or other employee as the owner.
If this key witness is missing, the case usually collapses, even taking the lower burden of proof into account.
Furthermore, in civil property crime matters, the “no harm, no foul” defense is usually effective. If the defendant makes restitution and the plaintiff insists on moving forward, the plaintiff comes off as vindictive or worse.
Reach Out to a Reliable Manatee County Lawyer
Aggrieved consumers usually have legal options in Florida. For a free consultation with an experienced civil theft lawyer in Bradenton, contact the Cahall Law Firm, PLLC. After-hours, virtual, and home visits are available.