Value of property is an often times overlooked element of the crime of theft.
In addition to proving that a person knowingly obtained or used the property of another with intent to deprive the other person of the property, the State must prove that the value of the property taken was above $300.00 before they can convict you of grand theft. The value must be proven at trial beyond a reasonable doubt.
Value means the market value of the property at the time and place of the offense and, if such value cannot be satisfactorily ascertained, the cost of the replacement of the property within a reasonable time after the offense. When evidence of the value is not available through direct testimony, the Florida Supreme Court set out a 4-part test for determining market value: (1) original market cost, (2) manner in which the item was used, (3) the general condition and quality of the item, and (4) the percentage of depreciation. State v. Hawthorne, 573 So.2d 330.
So if the State only presents evidence of the original purchase price of the property without establishing the value at the time of the theft, the evidence is insufficient to sustain a conviction for grand theft. If that is the case in your case, the charge should get reduced to petit theft (a second degree misdemeanor if the value is less than $100 and a first degree misdemeanor if the value is more than $100).
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