Undercover Jacksonville police officers are putting a dent in the underground scrap car part business, wearing wires and trying to take down people buying stolen cars and parts. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office announced a string of Duval County arrests last week in cases they've been building in the last month, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police said they went to a co-owner of a tire shop and sold him four tires and rims for $200, after telling him they were stolen. Police arrested another business owner with a similar set-up a day later. Police are trying to crack down on people who advertise at the side of the road that they buy "junk cars" and "car parts." Many times, police said in the newspaper report, those businesses are fronts for people selling stolen goods. The arrests were made by JSO's Auto Theft Unit and the Burglary SCRAP Task Force.
Both were charged with dealing in stolen property in Jacksonville, which is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The key to the state's case on a dealing in stolen property charge is proving the defendant knew OR should have known the merchandise was stolen. That does not appear to be an issue in this case, since the police say they have it on tape that officers told the buyer the goods were stolen. But let's say your neighbor owes you $100. He doesn't have the money, but, instead he gives you a lawnmower he says is worth $150 to satisfy the debt. You agree, but since you already have a lawnmower, you take this one to a pawn shop to get some money for it. The mower registers as stolen and the state charges you with dealing in stolen property. Can the state do that? Technically, they can charge you with this Jacksonville felony, but proving it will be an issue. The state has to show that you knew or should have reasonably known the property was stolen. If you didn't, chances are the criminal charges will be dismissed.
Our Jacksonville theft lawyer knows the standard the state must meet to prove a dealing in stolen property charge - and have seen first-hand how difficult the threshold can be. It's not surprising undercover officers expressly stated that the tires and rims were stolen. Police know that element is paramount to their case. If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm, PA at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Duval County Theft Lawyer is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.