What to do if Caught Stealing Packages this Holiday Season

 

As the holidays are quickly approaching, people have started to do their annual shopping for gifts and presents for their friends and families. In today’s age of technology, people have turned to the easiest way of having items delivered straight to their doors: online shopping. Online shopping allows the customer to never leave the comfort of their home, expecting their purchase to show up at the doorstep a few days later.

 

However, companies like UPS, USPS, FEDEX, and Amazon, who is predicting to deliver 800 million packages during December, may end up delivering one’s package while they are not home, putting it at risk of being stolen. Depending on the item, a stolen package could result in a felony charge and sentence in prison. 

 

More significantly, stealing from a person’s mailbox is a federal crime. Being convicted could lead to time in federal prison, as well as a harsher sentence and punishment.

 

Holiday Package Theft

 

How People Are Caught for Theft of a Package

 

Almost every home nowadays has a doorbell that takes a video of everything happening outside of their home. This lead to a market of home security to catch “Porch Pirates” in the act. Companies like Ring and Nest Hello have 24/7 footage of who is coming, going, and dropping off packages at a person’s front door.  

 

These companies also send notifications to their owners whenever activity is detected near the doorbell. If the video catches a person stealing packages that were delivered to their home, the owner of the doorbell can send the video to the police, resulting in the person’s arrest.

 

What to do if Caught Stealing Packages

 

When caught stealing packages, you should always be calm and polite to the police. You have the right not to say anything to them, and you should not feel pressured into admitting guilt. Most importantly, you should hire a trained Criminal Defense Attorney, like Rossen Law Firm, to help represent your case. 

 

What You Could be Charged With After Stealing Someone’s Package

 

Theft:

According to Florida Statutes, theft is defined as intentionally obtaining the property of another person. This would include walking up to someone else’s house and stealing a package from their front door. In Fort Lauderdale, people convicted of theft may receive sentences of up to 1 year in jail for a Misdemeanor Theft and a possible prison sentence for Felony Grand Theft.

 

Grand Theft:

Grand Theft is also defined as the intentional obtaining of another person’s property, but the property must be worth more than $750. This change in charges would occur if the package stolen was valued at a high price. In Fort Lauderdale, people convicted of grand theft may receive sentences of five to 15 years in prison, as well as five to 15 years of probation depending on the value of the package.

 

Petit Theft:

Petit Theft is defined as intentionally obtaining another person’s property that is worth less than $750. This normally includes shoplifting and smaller items that are stolen. In Fort Lauderdale, people convicted of petit theft may result in 60 days in jail, as well as up to a year of imprisonment for a second offense. 

 

Burglary:

Burglary is defined as entering a dwelling with the intent to commit an offense. This differs from theft and grand theft because now a person is actually inside of another’s home, rather than just outside on their front door. In Fort Lauderdale, people convicted of burglary may receive sentences of up to 15 years in prison and 15 years of probation.

 

Federal Charges May Apply:

Theft of U.S. Mail can qualify as a federal offense.  This can result in a federal prison sentence of up to 5 years and a fine up to $250,000.00.

 

How Can the Prosecution Prove Value of the Items in the Package

 

If the prosecution knows who the owner of the items is, they are able to prove value by reaching out to the owner and determine worth. The prosecution can also reach out to stores or companies if they are the owner of the item. If the prosecution cannot determine the proof of value for an item, a judge may hold a restitution hearing to assign an appropriate value. 

 

Legal Defenses to Crimes Involving Stealing Packages Intent

 

For both theft and burglary cases, we rely on proving the intent of our client. If a client, in good faith, did not mean to steal the package, we can use the fact that they forgot they put the package in their cart or mistakenly left the store. We also rely on proving value of items in a package. If a client had no idea of how much an item was worth when it was stolen, then they had no intent of stealing something of that much worth or value. 

 

There are many different defenses that we use to defend Petit Theft charges. We use a mistaken identity or accusations claim, as well as poor video quality that makes it unclear of who is stealing the package. Also, leaving the store for a different reason than to steal, like to retrieve a stolen wallet or in case of an emergency, can be used to help prove innocence in court. 

 

Similarly, there are many defenses that we use during burglary cases. Sometimes a client was given permission to be on someone else’s property, and therefore was not essentially breaking and entering. We also use the fact that burglary must be committed within a dwelling or home, and not an open space that is not considered a structure. 

 

How the Rossen Law Firm Has Won Cases of Stealing Packages

 

Man Unknowingly Bought Stolen Property and Charged with Grand Theft

Andrew was driving around one day when he ran into a guy at the gas station who was selling Babolat tennis racket at much less than what you would pay for them in-store. He bought them and then took them into a pawn shop within 24 hours. When you pawn something you have to give your fingerprints. It turned out the racket he bought had been stolen out of someone's garage, and the police traced the racket back to Andrew. He was then arrested on charges of grand theft and dealing in stolen property, and was looking at a possible max of 20 years in prison. We fought to get Andrew into the diversion program. The prosecution originally said no because Andrew had a prior criminal charge in Virginia that was pinned on him by his ex-wife, but we kept trying because it was the best way to avoid both trial and prison time. We were finally able to convince the prosecutor to let Andrew into the diversion program. He paid restitution and the charges against him were dropped. 

 

Woman’s Petit Theft Charge Dropped and Record Expunged

Sasha was at a Walmart when she pretended to return a phone case at customer service with a receipt from the previous day. She was given $60 and walked out of the store when a security guard stopped her after catching her on video. Sasha was then arrested and charged with Petit Theft. Sasha knew that she made a dumb mistake in stealing the phone case, and was looking for help to stop rationalizing her decision. She is a small business owner and felt extreme guilt over her few moments of indiscretion. She didn’t want to be labeled a “criminal” or “thief.”  Not only did we fight for her during the case but we were able to find her a therapist that helped put Sasha on a better path. We were able to enroll Sasha in a misdemeanor diversion program, where she completed it perfectly. We were able to get Sasha’s charges dropped and her record expunged. 

 

Man Falsely Accused of Burglary Put into Diversion Program

Travis had just changed prescription meds, mixed them with alcohol and blacked out. During this altered state Travis was at his mom's condo. He left her unit and ended up ripping a phone off the wall, smashing the window of a Honda Accord, and then sitting in it with the phone doing nothing. During this time, residents at the condo building told the security guard what Travis was doing and called police. The security guard located Travis inside the car and asked him to step out of the vehicle, which he did. Another resident attempted to help the security guard and ended up punching Travis in the face. Travis then fled. He was trying to go back to his mother's apartment, but was on the wrong floor of the right building. He was banging on the door (thinking his mother was inside) and scared the couple that live in that unit. When the police officer arrived he sprayed Travis in the face with his OC spray, wrestled him onto the ground and arrested him for burglary. This was a case that got out of hand. Yes Travis committed trespass, vandalism, and resisting arrest, but he definitely did not commit burglary. He didn't steal anything from the car. We talked to the prosecutors, showed them there was no evidence of burglary, and convinced them that they wouldn't be able to prove that there was. We plead to a misdemeanor and got him misdemeanor probation. Travis took a medical leave of absence from college, and began seeing a therapist to help him treat his depression. 

 

Reach out Today…

If you or someone you know are facing criminal charges after stealing a package, you should consider hiring a trained Criminal Defense Attorney with a proven track record. 

 

Call the Rossen Law Firm today at:754-206-6200 with any questions or for more information. 

 
Attorney Adam Rossen
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South Florida Criminal & DUI Defense Attorney
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