Possession of Stolen Property with Altered Identification Marks

possessing stolen property with altered identifiation

Florida treats dealing in stolen property as a serious crime. In 2018, the state ranked number one in motorcycle thefts nationwide. Thieves take these bikes, alter the vehicle identification numbers (VIN), and then resell them to sometimes unsuspecting buyers. Receiving and/or trafficking stolen goods is a felony under state statute 812.019. It doesn’t matter the size of the item, and if convicted, a defendant faces severe penalties which can affect his or her freedom, reputation, and future.

What if the said property has removed or altered identification marks? This too is a crime under Florida law and is considered a first-degree misdemeanor. Purposely altering or being in possession of property that has altered identification marks is considered a fraudulent practice offense. Being convicted for one or both of these crimes will bring severe penalties which can affect one’s freedom, reputation, and future.

Florida Penalties for Fraudulent Practices

When charged with “fraudulent practices” under Florida Statute 817.235, a defendant faces a first-degree misdemeanor and is accused of the following acts:

  • Intentionally erasing, removing, defacing or altering a serial number or other identification marks placed on personal property by a manufacturer or owner in order to prevent the owner from identifying it.
  • Knowingly possesses personal property that has altered serial numbers or other identification marks that would prevent the true owner from identifying it.

Penalties for this charge may include:

  • Fines of up to $1,000
  • Jail time for up to 1 year
  • Up to 1 year of probation

There are key points of evidence a prosecutor must demonstrate to the court to win a conviction against the defendant.

  • You knew or was aware that it is stolen property.
  • You knew the identifying marks were altered or missing.
  • You were in possession of the property

If you are being accused of fraudulent practices, it is essential to retain an attorney as quickly as possible to protect your rights. Avoid making any statements to law enforcement about the property in question. Anything you say could be used to convict you in court.

Recent Case Result

Selling Motor Vehicle with Serial # Removed/Altered Charges Dropped

2018-CJ-000749

Child charged by the State with possessing a motorbike with a scratched-off serial number. The only evidence was that (1) the motorbike had a scratched-off serial number (2) the motorbike had been stolen weeks earlier when the serial number was intact and (3) the child was physically in possession of the motorbike with the scratched-off serial number. State dropped the charge after defense counsel provided case law that possession of a stolen motorbike does not mean that the person in possession of the stolen motorbike knows that the stolen bike has a scratched-off serial number. In the absence of proof that the child knows that the stolen property has a scratched-off serial number, the State was convinced by our lawyer to drop the charges. (Too much time had passed between the theft and the child’s possession for the State to argue that the child stole the motorbike).

Dealing and Receiving Stolen Goods & Fraud

A large number of these cases stem from someone selling items they don’t own. Also known as “trafficking in stolen property,” perpetrators often come from impoverished backgrounds. Unfortunately, the legal consequences are stiff. It makes no difference to the court if a perpetrator sold a $20 watch or a $10,000 motorcycle because the punishment remains the same. Dealing in stolen property may result in a first- or second-degree felony charge.

Florida law does not purport that receiving stolen goods is the same as dealing in them, but prosecutors will try to determine if you knew the items were stolen. Evidence of altered or scratched off serial numbers on a motorcycle would be viewed as a fraudulent practice. Law enforcement knows this type of activity occurs to prevent an owner from identifying and getting their property back.

Hire an Orlando Defense Lawyer You Can Trust

If you or a loved one is charged with altering a serial number on a motorcycle or being in possession of stolen property that has scratched off or missing identification marks, don’t try to explain your way out of the situation. Retain a reputable criminal defense lawyer before making any statements so that you avoid being taken out of context by law enforcement. Don’t give them any information they can use to discredit your defense and get you convicted.

Attorneys with The Umansky Law Firm have over 100 years of combined legal experience to create an aggressive defense against these types of serious charges. Our team of former prosecutors understands how state and county courts approach these matters. This gives us an advantage when trying to negotiate the best possible outcome for your case. Contact us today at (407) 228-3838 to get a free case evaluation and find out how we protect not just your rights, but your future and reputation.