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Dealing in Stolen Property


West Palm Beach Dealing in Stolen Property Lawyer David W. Olson

It is unlawful to buy or sell stolen property. However, there are many instances in which a buyer or seller of stolen property did not know the property was stolen. This may result in an unexpected, frightening and complicated experience – an arrest and charge of dealing in stolen property, also known as fencing. A conviction for trafficking in stolen property can potentially result in a second-degree felony, with a maximum 15-year prison term. If an individual is convicted of initiating the theft and trafficking of stolen property, it may potentially result in a first-degree felony, with a maximum 30-year prison sentence.

If you were charged with dealing in stolen property it is essential to obtain experienced and qualified legal representation immediately. West Palm Beach Attorney David W. Olson has been representing clients charged with serious felonies and misdemeanors for more than three decades, including theft offenses, drug offenses, violent crimes, DUI, sex offenses, driving offenses, juvenile matters and more. A free consultation is available by calling 561-833-8866.

812.019 – Dealing in stolen property.

(1) Any person who traffics in, or endeavors to traffic in, property that he or she knows or should know was stolen shall be guilty of a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in ss. 775.082, 775.083, and 775.084.

(2) Any person who initiates, organizes, plans, finances, directs, manages, or supervises the theft of property and traffics in such stolen property shall be guilty of a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in ss. 775.082,775.083, and 775.084.

Understanding Dealing in Stolen Property

One reason why it is essential to obtain effective representation is that even if the value of the property is slight, for example, only a few dollars, a conviction for dealing in stolen property (trafficking) can still potentially result in a first or second-degree felony.

While the dealing in stolen property statute seems relatively simple on its face, in practice it is often quite complicated. One way to understand this offense is to refer to Sec. 14.2, Florida Standard Jury Instructions, to see what the State must prove to meet its burden. (For purposes of this article, only a brief overview will be presented. Discuss your specific case with your attorney).

The State must prove two elements beyond a reasonable doubt to prove the crime of Dealing in Stolen Property:

  1. Defendant trafficked in or endeavored to traffic in alleged property.
  2. Defendant knew or should have known that alleged property was stolen.

Where applicable, the statute infers the following:

  • “Proof of possession of recently stolen property, unless satisfactorily explained, gives rise to an inference that the person in possession of the property knew or should have known that the property had been stolen.” Sec. 812.022(2), Fla. Stat.
  • “Proof of the purchase or sale of stolen property at a price substantially below the fair market value, unless satisfactorily explained, gives rise to an inference that the person buying or selling the property knew or should have known that the property had been stolen.” (Sec. 812.022(3)
  • “Proof of the purchase or sale of stolen property by a dealer in property, out of the regular course of business or without the usual indicia of ownership other than mere possession, unless satisfactorily explained, gives rise to an inference that the person buying or selling the property knew or should have known that it had been stolen.” (Sec. 812.022(4)
  • “Proof that a dealer who regularly deals in used property possesses stolen property, upon which a name and phone number of a person other than the offeror of the property are conspicuously displayed, gives rise to an inference that the dealer possessing the property knew or should have known that the property was stolen.”
  • “Proof that a person was in possession of a stolen motor vehicle and that the ignition mechanism of the motor vehicle had been bypassed or the steering wheel locking mechanism had been broken or bypassed, unless satisfactorily explained, gives rise to an inference that the person in possession of the stolen motor vehicle knew or should have known that the motor vehicle had been stolen.”

What is Property?

Property includes:

  • Real property
  • Personal property
  • Anything of value

What is Stolen Property?

  • “Property that has been the subject of any criminally wrongful taking or if the property has not been made stolen, that is was offered for sale to defendant as stolen property. (Secs. 812.012(6), 812.028(3)

What is Trafficking?

  • “Traffic means: to sell, transfer, distribute, dispense or otherwise dispose of property; and to buy, receive, possess, obtain control of or use property with the intent to sell, transfer, distribute, dispense or otherwise dispose of the property.” (Sec. 812.012(7)

What Does All This Mean?

Each of the following could raise a red flag, and without a satisfactory explanation, infers the property is stolen:

  • Purchase or sale of property at prices far below fair market value,
  • Purchase or sale of property by a dealer out of the regular course of business, without indicia of ownership, such as title or receipt,
  • When a dealer uses another’s name,
  • Broken motor vehicle ignition switch.

Defenses to Dealing in Stolen Property

A buyer or seller of stolen property may have absolutely no idea that the property is stolen. There are numerous defenses to dealing in stolen property, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • The most common defense: the accused had no knowledge that the property was stolen.
  • Property was a legitimate gift or purchase and there was no way to know it was stolen.
  • The property actually was not stolen.
  • The accused transferred ownership at the request of a friend, relative or another and unwittingly was “caught in the middle.”
  • Any reasonable explanation that addresses and answers the question of whether the property was stolen.
  • Many other reasons – discuss with your attorney.

West Palm Beach and South Florida Criminal Defense Attorney David W. Olson

Attorney David Olson provides aggressive, effective and zealous representation to clients charged with all felonies and misdemeanors, including dealing in stolen property, theft offenses, drug offenses, DUI, domestic assault and abuse, robbery, juvenile matters, driving offenses, computer and internet offenses, sex offenses, violation of probation and more.

Attorney Olson has received numerous accolades and awards, including:

  • AV Preeminent – Awarded to only the top 5% of attorneys nationally

Attorney Olson will pursue the resolution that is most favorable to you. Many of his cases have been dismissed, particularly those of first time offenders. Results have often included pretrial resolutions and pretrial intervention programs. Many cases have been resolved with a withhold of adjudication.

It is highly recommended to contact Attorney Olson as soon as possible after an arrest or after learning of an investigation. Early intervention allows Attorney Olson to immediately take charge of your case and communicate with the authorities on your behalf. Spanish speaking clients are welcome. We represent clients throughout West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Pompano Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami-Dade County and elsewhere in South Florida and throughout the state. For a free case review, contact The Law Offices of David W. Olson at 561-833-8866.


Sec. 812.019, Fla. Stat. (2015)
Secs. 812.022(2), 812.022(3), 812.022(4), 812.012(6), 812.012(7), 812.028(3) Fla. Stat. (2015)
14.2, Florida Standard Jury Instructions

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