Giving False Information to a Pawnbroker
Stolen property often ends up in a local pawnshop. To make it more challenging for people who steal property to profit from their crime, Florida Statute 539.001(8)(b) prohibits providing false verification of ownership or false identification to a pawnbroker. Under Florida’s Pawnbroking Act, the pawnbroker must obtain a form from anyone who completes a pawn transaction, verify that the individual owns the item, and ensure there are no liens on the item.
Simply stated, giving false information or verification occurs when a defendant knowingly and falsely claims that they are the rightful owner of the property in order to pawn the items and receive money in exchange. A criminal defense attorney can assist you with defenses if you’re accused of this crime.
Pawnbroker Transaction Forms
The Florida Pawnbroking Act requires that pawnbrokers receive a statement from any person trying to pawn items that they are the legal owner. This report is documented on a pawnbroker form. The statement requires the seller to provide a thumbprint and a signature.
Pawnbrokers are required to keep copies of each transaction for at least 12 months following a sale. At the end of every business day, a pawnbroker brings the original copy of each transaction form from the previous day to local law enforcement. If a case goes to trial and the original form is lost, the pawnbroker can use their copy as evidence.
Who Qualifies as a Pawnbroker?
Florida law clearly defines a pawnbroker as any person who:
- Is in the business of pawning
- Makes a public display containing the term “pawn,” “pawnbroker,” or “pawnshop”
- Publicly displays a sign or symbol attributed to pawning
A pawnbroker may also purchase goods, which include consignment and trade. The term “pawn” describes the advancement of funds on the security of pledged goods.
Elements of Providing False Information to a Pawnbroker
The elements of providing false information to a pawnbroker or on a pawnbroker form are:
- Selling or pledging property that is not yours to a pawnbroker
- Knowingly giving false identification or false verification of item ownership
- Receiving compensation from the pawnbroker for the items sold
To prove that an individual committed the crime of False Verification of Ownership or False Identification to a Pawnbroker, the state must prove all three elements occurred beyond a reasonable doubt.
Defenses to a Pawnbroking Charge
There are many defenses available to contest a charge of giving false information to a pawnbroker. A common issue is whether the defendant knowingly gave false verification of ownership. In this scenario, even if the items pawned are discovered as stolen, the defendant believed at the time they had rightful ownership of the property.
Punishment for Giving False Information to a Pawnbroker
The punishment for providing false information to a pawnbroker depends on the amount of money the defendant received in the pawn transaction. The offense is a third-degree felony if the property is less than $300. If found guilty, a court can sentence the defendant to serve up to five years in prison or pay a fine up to $5,000.
However, if the property is worth more than $300, the offense is a second-degree felony. Courts can sentence the defendant to serve up to 15 years in prison or pay up to a $10,000 fine.
The court may consider prior criminal history when sentencing and provide other jail alternatives like house arrest, supervised probation, full repayment of goods, or community service.
Return of Stolen Items Pawned
In many cases, the victim of a burglary or robbery will find their property at a pawnshop. If this happens, the victim can make a claim or file a replevin to recover their items. If the victim believes something in a pawnshop belongs to them, the individual can file a lawsuit to recover the property.
If this happens, the victim must notify the pawnbroker in-person or through certified mail. The notice must also include a police report. The individual can file a lawsuit if the claim is active after ten days.
If a court finds that the items were stolen goods, the individual can recover their property, and the pawnbroker must pay attorney fees under Section 539.001(15), F.S. However, if a court determines the individual does not have enough information about the stolen property, they are responsible for the defendant’s court fees, including any attorney fees under Section 539.001(15)(c), F.S.
Attorney for False Information to a Pawnbroker in Central Florida
If you are charged with providing false verification of ownership or providing false information to a pawnbroker in Central Florida, you must speak with an experienced Orlando criminal defense attorney. This crime is a severe matter with harsh penalties, even for first-time offenders.
Here at The Umansky Law Firm, we bring demonstrated experience and success with over 100 years of combined experience. You deserve a reputable criminal defense lawyer who will not give up until they achieve the best situation for your case. Our team of legal professionals has extensive experience as former Florida state prosecutors, so you can be assured your future and rights are in good hands. Call our office or complete our contact form to set up your free consultation.