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Florida men steal electronics to buy drugs

Two local men were arrested after stealing desktop computers, laptops and stereo equipment from a Walmart over the past two months. The men are charged with theft and property crimes, including grand theft.

The value of the stolen property was $3,450. Under Florida law, stealing property valued between $300 and $20,000 is generally third degree grand theft, a felony of the third degree. This crime is punishable by up to five years imprisonment.

The two men have been living at a nearby motel. Detectives believe the men were selling the electronics for money to buy drugs or directly trading the equipment for drugs. One has prior convictions for petit theft and trafficking in stolen property. The other has previous convictions for petit theft and grand theft.

Prior convictions often lead to increased sentences, either because of mandatory minimum sentences for repeat offenders or because judges and prosecutors are less likely to give a favorable plea bargain to a repeat offender. Felony convictions and theft convictions of any type also severely hinder future employment opportunities.

Even if there is overwhelming evidence that the property was taken as the police described, all possible avenues for having the charges reduced or dismissed should be explored. It is unclear how the police became aware of the alleged theft and how the property was seized. If the police violated the mens' Constitutional rights during this process, it is possible that any evidence subsequently obtained is inadmissible and the charges may not be supported by any remaining evidence.

Source: FloridaToday.com, "West Melbourne police: Men stole electronics for drugs", Andrew Ford, May 20, 2013

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