How do you prove the value of the items in a theft case in Florida? South Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Explains
When someone is charged with a theft crime in Florida, part of the court process includes determining the value of the item(s) stolen. The value of the items stolen in a theft case matters immensely in Florida because the criminal charges get more intense for the person who allegedly committed the crime depending on the value of the stolen items.
The value of the items, in addition to determining the actual type of crime (petit theft or grand theft) you’ve been charged with, is also important to determining any potential restitution owed to the victim.
Fair Market Value: Why it matters in a Florida Theft Case
In Florida, the state prosecutors (the people pressing the charges against the defendant) need to be able to prove the fair market value of the items in a theft case.
Fair market value of items is NOT the same as the replacement cost of the items (which admittedly is a major bummer for the victim of the crime). To understand what this means, here’s an example:
Let’s say you’re on trial, accused of stealing an iPhone from someone. This iPhone wasn’t brand new though, the person had been using it for at least 6 months.
The Florida State Prosecutors will probably try to say that to replace a stolen iPhone costs up to $1,000 depending on the model.
But - this is where it gets very important to remember - they can’t just say the amount it costs to replace the iPhone. If a new iPhone, even if it’s the same model the victim had, costs $1,000 -- that is not what the phone was worth at the time it was stolen. After being purchased new, items immediately depreciate in value and depreciate more so the longer the items are used, and even more so if newer models of the same item are released - making the item that was stolen even less valuable because it no longer has the latest technology.
Factors in determining an item’s Fair market value in a Florida theft case
The Florida State Prosecutors instead need to prove the CURRENT FAIR MARKET VALUE of the IPhone that was actually taken. That depends on a variety of factors such as:
- Which model of iPhone is it?
- What memory capacity is it?
- What condition is the iPhone in? (for example, a cracked screen means it's worth less)
- How much has the iPhone depreciated since it was purchased?
- How old is the iPhone? Have newer models been released?
Certain items, especially cars - for example - depreciate in value significantly once they’ve been driven. A brand new car costs less the moment you leave the lot with it.
So in determining the current fair market value of the car, many different factors would need to be considered as well. In addition to miles, things like age, any record of issues or accidents come into play. Learn more about Grand Theft Auto and Carjacking in Florida here.