Tampa Theft & Fraud Crimes Attorney

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Tampa Theft & Fraud Crimes Lawyer

Being charged with a crime can invoke a lot of feelings. You might be indignant, angry, and even afraid. The legal system can seem overwhelming, and it can feel like you stand no chance. It is important to remember, though, that the burden of proof is on the prosecution. Many charges have been successfully defended against. To give yourself the strongest defense, you will want to work with a Tampa theft and fraud crimes attorney like Paul Figueroa Law.

What Are Some Tampa Theft and Fraud Crimes?

Theft and fraud crimes are often two sides of the same coin. They involve someone acquiring something that isn’t rightfully theirs. In the case of theft, this is often through outright taking it, sometimes through threats or even the use of force. Fraud typically involves using some measure of deceit or trickery to persuade someone to give you the property, which in many cases is financial. Some common examples of theft and fraud crimes include:

  • Shoplifting or Retail Theft – One of the most common forms of theft is stealing from retail locations.
  • Petty Theft – This usually involves theft of property that has a value of less than $750 and is charged as a misdemeanor.
  • Grand Theft – This is a higher – value theft involving property worth more than $750 and could result in felony charges.
  • Robbery – If theft occurs along with threats, intimidation, or use of force, it could be robbery and involve stiff penalties.
  • Burglary – When someone enters a home or some other structure for the purpose of committing a crime, including theft, it is burglary, which could face felony charges.
  • Auto Theft – As a form of grand theft, stealing a motor vehicle is one of the most serious kinds of theft and results in penalties that match that.
  • Identity Theft – Fraudulently claiming to be another person and making use of their personal information can result in serious felony charges.
  • Embezzlement – Someone who has funds that they’ve been entrusted with and misappropriates them can be charged with a felony.
  • Insurance Fraud – Fraudulent claims to an insurance company can result in criminal charges.
  • Check Fraud – Knowingly writing bad checks or committing other fraudulent banking actions is a criminal offense.
  • Credit Card Fraud – Using someone else’s credit card for personal gain without their knowledge is criminal.

What Are the Repercussions of a Theft or Fraud Conviction?

A conviction for a crime of theft or fraud carries a number of different repercussions. The exact nature of these repercussions will depend on a variety of factors, including the crime, any other subsequent convictions, prior convictions, and the damage that’s been done. While most people understand the idea of there being legal penalties for a criminal conviction, it is important to understand that there will likely be consequences beyond just the legal side of things as well.

The legal repercussions of a conviction come in the form of criminal penalties. For crimes like theft and fraud, there are a wide range of possible penalties depending upon the specifics of the conviction. Some of the potential penalties include:

  • Fines – Fines can vary depending on the conviction and are often used either on their own or in conjunction with something like imprisonment.
  • Probation – In lieu of imprisonment, a judge may opt to order probation, particularly in smaller, first-time offenses.
  • Prison or Jail Time – Depending on the particulars of the crime, imprisonment could be a jail stay for only a few days or imprisonment for years and even decades.
  • Restitution – Restitution to those harmed by a theft or fraud crime may be ordered in order to make them whole.
  • Community Service – For smaller crimes, it’s possible that community service may be given as an alternative to harsher penalties.

There are also a number of repercussions that extend beyond the legal penalties that follow a conviction in Tampa, FL. If someone is convicted of a crime, this results in a criminal record. These will show up on background checks and can have a range of negative impacts on your career, finances, and personal life. Some of the issues that come with a criminal background check include:

  • Employment Issues – There are many circumstances where an employer may choose not to hire someone with a criminal background.
  • Ineligibility for Professional License – For many professional licenses, a criminal background leads to an automatic rejection. For others, it can be a nearly impossible hurdle.
  • Education Problems – If you are trying to get into a university to further your education, you may run into issues similar to those you encounter when seeking employment.
  • Student Loan Issues – If you are able to get accepted into a university, it may be impossible to find funding as most student loan programs will not accept anyone with a criminal background.
  • Other Financing Challenges – It can be difficult to get credit of any kind with a criminal background as lenders have concerns about repeat offenses leading to an inability to repay.
  • Personal Issues – Fair or not, there is a social stigma around a criminal conviction, and this can negatively impact someone’s relationship with others.

What Are Some Defenses Against Theft and Fraud?

Defending against criminal charges of any sort is very specific to the circumstance. However, there are some general things that can be understood. For instance, it is not likely that something like self-defense, which might be used in a situation involving a violent crime, is going to be a valid defense for fraud. There are, though, some general categories or groups of potential strategies for defense that may apply to your situation.

One category of defense is to argue for innocence. This kind of defense relies heavily on the fact that the burden of proof belongs to the prosecution. That means they are required to convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime. If enough holes may be poked into that narrative, it may be possible to argue that you are innocent and to create enough reasonable doubt.

This could include attacking the accuracy and quality of the prosecution’s evidence. Another option may be to establish an alibi, which is to suggest that you were somewhere different at the time that the crime occurred.

Another defensive strategy may be more appropriate, though, when the evidence that you committed a particular action is going to be too thorough to overcome. These are defenses that, more or less, admit that you committed a particular action; however, because of mitigating circumstances, those actions didn’t constitute a crime.

Things like a lack of intent to steal or commit fraud, that you had consent from the owner of the property, or that you committed the act under duress could all potentially be a means of defense.

Another set of potential defenses deals with the possibility that law enforcement failed to behave as they should have and follow proper procedures. These may sometimes be referred to as “technicalities,” but they are really about preserving citizens’ rights. Things like a Miranda Rights violation, illegal search and seizure, chain of custody problems, and entrapment may be valid defenses.

What Does a Tampa Theft Crimes & Fraud Lawyer Do?

There are many different roles and tasks a criminal defense attorney will do for your case. One of the most significant things that we do, which carries on for the duration of the process, is to protect and stand up for your rights. This is something that can begin before there is even an arrest and charges. If you work with us while being investigated, we can help defend you against unlawful searches and seizures and self-incrimination.

Of course, if you are arrested, we help defend your right to remain silent as well. You have rights that continue on through the whole legal process and trial, and we will be there to see that they are respected.

We often begin our process with a full investigation of whatever crime you are being charged with, how the investigation was conducted, and what led to the arrest. We will be looking for whatever facts we can to help with your defense. We will use the power of subpoena to obtain any documentation that could help your defense. We will also interview eyewitnesses to see if they can help. We have a sharp eye for anything that can inform our strategy to defend you.

We will begin to put together a strategy for your defense even as we are still investigating. It is important for defense attorneys to be able to put themselves in the mindset of a prosecutor and envision how they might see the case. The more we can understand their possible plan for prosecuting the charges, the better we will be able to plan a defense against them.

We can identify weak points in their narratives and evidence. That will allow us to put a magnifying glass on those flaws for the jury and, hopefully, inspire reasonable doubt. We may also have a more aggressive defensive strategy, but the particulars will depend on the specific nature of your case and the facts available.

Before a trial, there is a lot that can still happen, which may help your defense. If any grounds exist that could get the charges dismissed, we will attempt to do so. We will also challenge any evidence that was not obtained properly and file other motions that can help protect your rights and the fairness of your trial.

It is possible that a plea deal may be offered before the trial. Whether or not that is the right option for you will depend on a variety of factors for you to consider. However, we will negotiate to discover the greatest offer we can get. We may help you understand the options available to you and how to consider the possibility of a plea compared with a trial, but it will be your decision as to what you choose.

If the case does go to trial, it is our job to represent you and advocate for you. We will challenge the prosecution’s case wherever possible and attempt to sow reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors. We will proactively offer a defense for you. Throughout the trial, we fight to see that your rights and protections are upheld.

Even the strongest of cases can still sometimes return a guilty verdict. If that happens in your case, we will continue to represent you through sentencing and make the case that, with mitigating circumstances, you deserve a lighter sentence. Even after sentencing, we can continue to advocate for you through any appeals that may apply.

What Should You Look for in a Criminal Defense Attorney?

There is a lot of faith and trust put into an attorney when you ask them to represent you. This, understandably, leads to people wanting to be sure that they have the right attorney representing them. In figuring that out, it’s important to first recognize that no attorney can guarantee you the outcome of a particular case. It is important that you choose someone who you feel will do the greatest job of representing you and giving you a fair shot at winning your case.

There are some traits that you should consider looking for in a lawyer. For instance, you want someone who has the pairing of both knowledge and experience. Knowledge needs to be paired with the experience of putting the law into practice for it to be most effective. Trustworthiness is also an important trait, given how much you entrust a lawyer with. Also, finding a lawyer who is detail-minded can be critical since so many cases are decided on small margins.

What Should You Do if You Are Arrested?

If you find that you are being arrested for a theft or fraud crime, it is quite likely that you are going through a broad spectrum of emotions. It’s not at all unreasonable to have feelings of anger, frustration, confusion, and disappointment. It’s critical, though, that you realize that how you choose to handle those moments can be critical to your defense.

The first thing to remember in these moments is to remain calm. While you might feel furious and indignant at that moment, it’s important to remember not to act on those feelings. It is very easy to accidentally say or do something that could be later held against you in court. As hard as it may be to remain calm at that moment, you are going to be better off if you quietly allow the process to happen than if you attempt to fight back.

It is also important that you be careful about what you say or, better yet, say nothing at all. You have a right to remain silent for a reason, and you should strongly consider using it. Officers are trained to listen for anything that could later be used against you, even in situations where it just seems to be that they are making small talk. That could be an attempt to get you to let your guard down. You will always be better off by staying silent and waiting for your lawyer.

It is critical that you contact your lawyer as soon as you are able. It’s our job to protect your rights and help prevent you from saying anything self-incriminating.

However, we cannot do that if we are not there and do not know what’s going on. The sooner we are aware of the situation, the sooner we can begin to put together a defense for you. Our investigation will be better the fresher that the evidence is. By calling us as soon as you can, we will be able to begin that process.

A Tampa Theft & Fraud Crimes Attorney Who Will Defend Your Case With Every Option Available

A criminal conviction, even if the crime is non-violent, as most theft and fraud crimes are, is always a serious issue. The consequences of a conviction could negatively impact almost every area of your life. There are the legal repercussions of possible fines, probation, and even prison time.

Beyond the legal aspects, though, there is also the impact of a criminal record, which could harm your career, finances, and even personal life. There is a lot at stake in a criminal trial, and it is critical that you have a solid defense.

It can feel like the legal system is overwhelmingly against you at times. There seem to be a number of odds stacked against you. Prosecutors want to get successful convictions on the record. Juries want to seek criminal activity punished. Despite all of this, though, the system is set up in a manner that offers defendants a fair chance at avoiding a guilty verdict if they use it properly.

That is what we do at Paul Figueroa Law. As a Tampa theft and fraud crimes attorney, it’s our job to use the options available in the legal system to give our clients a fair chance at clearing their name. If you have a theft or fraud charge that you need help defending against, contact us today.

Practice Areas

Criminal Defense
Personal Injury