Regular readers of this blog may already know that it’s one thing to be charged with a crime in Florida, and another to be charged with the right crime. In Green v. State, for example, Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal reversed a grand theft conviction, finding that the defendant likely lied (and probably committed fraud), but did not steal.
Timothy Green was working in the mortgage industry in 2004 when set up a deal for his mother to purchase property in Florida. Acting as his mother’s agent, he obtained for her a mortgage of more than $125,000 from Argent Mortgage Company. Argent later determined, however, that the mortgage application that Green completed contained false information, overstating his mother’s monthly income and claiming that she would occupy the property, even though she lived in another state at the time and had no intention to move. According to Argent, the company would not have approved the loan had the application included the correct information.
Green made scheduled installment payments on the loan on time each month and the mortgage was paid off in full a mere six months after the loan was made. Nevertheless, Green was charged with and later convicted of grand theft of property when prosecutors became aware of the false information in the application.
In a Florida theft case, the Court explained, “the State must prove that the accused knowingly obtained the property of another with the intent to either deprive the other person of the property or to appropriate the property for his own use.” In other words, according to the Court, prosecutors must show that the person took the property with the intent to steal. Because this requires proof of a specific mind state, prosecutors typically rely on circumstantial evidence to establish theft, rather than direct evidence showing that the person knew he or she was stealing. They must, however, show that the evidence rules out any other possibility.
Here, the evidence showed that Green submitted false information on the application in order to obtain the property. While this seemed to indicate that he intended to steal, the Court found that this conclusion was contradicted by the fact that Green paid off the mortgage in less than a year. Citing the Fourth District’s 2011 decision in Barrios v. State, the Court noted that “misrepresentation on a mortgage application does not prove that the applicant never intended to repay the borrowed funds.”
Because this was the only evidence supporting the conviction, the Court ruled that conviction be reversed.
If you or someone you love is facing a theft charge, you need an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to represent you. Anidjar & Levine, P.A. is a team of South Florida criminal defense attorneys, investigators and medical/legal support experts who are fully capable of handling all aspects of your case. Anidjar & Levine’s attorneys have years of experience and a proven track record of success in handling their clients’ cases. Anidjar & Levine are committed to helping you with your case and will work tirelessly to achieve the best results for you.
Related blog posts: