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Court Discusses Specific Elements of Petit Larceny

In this criminal case, shortly before 10 p.m. on May 16, 1969, the police were summoned by a neighbor to investigate a breaking and entering at the home of the spouses’ victims. The police officers were the first to arrive at the scene. A New York Criminal Lawyer said the first officer positioned himself at the front door while the other officer entered the dwelling through the back door. Upon entering the dining area of the victim’s home the officer Howell saw appellant, informed him that he was under arrest and ordered him to stop. Nevertheless, appellant fled from the house through the front door where he was apprehended by the other officer. Appellant, who was wearing socks on both hands and holding a screwdriver, was handcuffed and searched but no personal property belonging to the spouses was found in his possession.

A Florida Petit Larceny Lawyer said that, the officer continued his search of the house and apprehended defendant in a bedroom. He had in his possession a Masonic ring, watch and suit coat all of which belonged to the husband victim. Also found in the bedroom was a pillowcase which contained a razor, cigarettes and shaving cream.

A New York Criminal Lawyer said that, at the trial the husband victim testified that the ring and watch were Christmas presents and were cherished by him but no monetary value for the watch; ring or suit coat was ever established. Nor was evidence offered on the value of the personalty in the spouses household. The only evidence of the value of any item in the household was the husband victim’s testimony that $70 was missing from his dresser drawer.

A Florida Grand Larceny Lawyer said that, at the conclusion of the trial the jury returned a verdict finding appellant guilty of grand larceny and of breaking and entering with intent to commit a felony, i.e., grand larceny. The trial court determined that the evidence would not support the conviction of grand larceny and reduced the conviction on that count to petit larceny. The conviction of breaking and entering with intent to commit grand larceny was allowed to stand and appellant was sentenced to 20 years at hard labor on that count.

A New York Drug Possession Lawyer said that, appellant brings this appeal from a denial by the trial court of his Rule 3.850, FRCRP, 33 F.S.A., motion to set aside his conviction of breaking and entering with intent to commit a felony, i.e., grand larceny, on the grounds that there was no evidence to establish that he intended to steal the property of another valued at $100 or more.

The State’s sole contention is that appellant has no standing to raise an evidentiary issue in a collateral attack upon the judgment of conviction and sentence which has previously been affirmed by this court on direct appeal. In support of this contention the Attorney General vigorously argues that by failing to raise the subject issue in his motion for new trial and assignments of error on direct appeal, appellant is now precluded from posing this issue in a collateral attack upon a final judgment.

The issue in this case is whether appellant should be allowed to attack the court’s decision collaterally.

The Court held that, to convict an accused of a crime when one of the elements of that crime has not been proven is to deprive the accused of the due process of law which is guaranteed to him by our state and federal constitutions. The Court holds that appellant’s challenge to his conviction in this collateral proceeding is cognizable as he has been convicted of a crime without due process of law.

The Court said that the key element of the crime of breaking and entering with intent to commit a felony, i.e., grand larceny, is the ‘intent.’ A New York Sex Crimes Lawyer to establish the necessary ‘intent’ to commit grand larceny, it must first be shown that there was property valued at $100 or more which could have been the subject of the larceny. Once the value of the property has been established to be at least $100 then the jury may determine from the other circumstances presented that the breaking and entering was for the purpose of committing grand larceny.

The courts of this State have held time and time again that the value of the property subject to a potential larceny cannot be established by simply showing that a dwelling was filled with household goods, or a store with merchandise. There must be some specific and competent evidence establishing that the value of the property was at least $100. Here, the only specific evidence concerning the value of the spouses’ household goods was the $70 in cash which was missing from the dresser drawer. No monetary value was ever placed on the ring, watch, suit coat, or on all of the other household goods that were ‘ransacked’ by appellant and defendant.

Thus, there was no competent evidence establishing that personal property of at least $100 was located in the spouses’ household. The Court agrees with the contention appellant now raises in this collateral attack that his conviction for breaking and entering with intent to commit a felony, i.e., grand larceny, cannot stand as the evidence is void of any intention on his part to steal the property of another valued at $100 or more.

In reversing the judgment appealed the Court pause to note that even though a specific value of $100 or more must be established to support a conviction of breaking and entering with intent to commit grand larceny, proof of any value will support a conviction of breaking and entering with intent to commit petit larceny. The trial court is directed to vacate the judgment of conviction and sentence as to defendant’s guilt of the crime of breaking and entering with intent to commit grand larceny and to enter a judgment of conviction as to defendant’s guilt of the crime of breaking and entering with intent to commit petit larceny and impose a new sentence accordingly.

Accordingly, the Court held that judgment is reversed and remanded, with directions.

The rule is that to convict an accused of a crime when one of the elements of that crime has not been proven is to deprive the accused of the due process of law which is guaranteed to him by our state and federal constitutions. If you have been denied of your right to due process of law while in trial, you will need the help of a Florida Grand Larceny Attorney and Florida Petit Larceny Attorney in order to defend your case and make sure that your constitutional right to due process be upheld. Without the assistance of Florida Criminal Attorney you will lose your guaranteed rights to due process of law. Call us at Stephen Bilkis and Associates for free legal advice.

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