Theft of Lost or Abandoned Property in Florida
Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers - not in Florida.
In Florida, if a person finds lost or abandoned property they are required to report the finding to law enforcement.¹
This law applies equally to obviously valuable items such as lap tops and electronic devices, as well as to less obviously valuable items such as hubcaps and bicycles.
The failure to report the finding of the lost or abandoned property to law enforcement, or return the property when asked, is considered theft.
Penalties for Theft of Lost or Abandoned Property
The penalties for the crime of Theft of Lost or Abandoned Property are determined by the value of the property found.
Grand Theft of Lost or Abandoned Property
Petit Theft of Lost or Abandoned Property
Defenses to Theft of Lost or Abandoned Property
Other than alleging a false accusation, there are three primary defenses to the crime of Theft:
Lawfully Claimed Property
Under Florida's Lost or Abandoned property statute, a person who finds lost or abandoned property must report it to law enforcement and deposit with law enforcement a reasonable sum sufficient to cover the agency's cost for transportation, storage, and publication of notice. If this procedure is followed and no claim is made, the person is given rightful ownership of the property - even if the previous owner comes forward after the fact.
Simply put, it is impossible to steal trash. This is because Florida law only criminalizes the stealing of "property." Property is defined as "anything of value" and the Value is defined as "the market value of property at the time and place of the offense or, if such cannot be satisfactorily ascertained, the cost of replacement of the property within a reasonable time after the offense." Thus if someone places something by the road, it has become trash that presumably has no value.³
Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby
If you have been arrested or charged with the crime of theft in Central Florida, please contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby today.
The initial consultation is free and I am always available to advise you on the proper course of action that can be taken.