You can rent just about anything in Florida, from yard tools to yachts. It’s a convenient way to make use of something without having to buy it. But if you fail to return a rented or leased item, you could be facing criminal charges. Not returning rented property is listed under Theft, Robbery, and Related Crimes in Florida law. Specifically, under Florida Statute 812.155(3) if the item is worth more than $300, you can be charged with a third-degree felony.
When you sign an equipment rental agreement in Florida, one of the many paragraphs to initial refers directly to that law:
“Failure to return rental property or equipment upon expiration of the rental period and failure to pay all amounts due (including costs for damage to the property or equipment) are evidence of abandonment or refusal to redeliver the property, punishable in accordance with section 812.155, Florida Statutes.”
But sometimes, a store or rental center will file a complaint with the local prosecutor without giving all of the facts. Criminal charges of any kind can be devastating and have a lifelong impact. If you’ve been charged with failure to return a rental item in Florida, the best way to handle the situation is with an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney. Call (407) 349-4211 for a free consultation with an Orlando Criminal Defense Attorney at the Rivas Law Firm.
An Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
“Rent-to-own” deals can result in “failure to return” charges. Rent-to-own companies prey on working people with damaged credit scores. They offer everyday items like appliances, furniture, or car tires on a weekly payment plan. But if you can’t make payments and late fees pile up, instead of dealing with debt collectors, you may find yourself facing criminal charges.
Failure to return a rental car is considered theft and a violation of Florida Statute 817.52. It’s a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Companies can be quick to press these charges even in cases of honest mistakes or hardships. People get sick and find themselves out of work, or maybe the company’s records were wrong. Often, people face these criminal charges after a divorce or a break up in a relationship. Someone may rent a smartphone for a boyfriend who decides to keep it when he leaves. Or a couple may lease some furniture for a condo, and one party gets left with just the bills after a breakup.
If the law gets involved, the best way to deal with criminal charges in Florida is with an aggressive and experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Defense Against Criminal Charges in Florida
Prosecutors have to be able to prove certain things when they file criminal charges. For instance, before charging you with a crime, they have to show that you received a Demand of Return letter from the rental company. They also must show that the contract you signed
contained the proper legal notices and that you initialed and signed all of the appropriate sections. If you’ve been charged with a crime in Florida, you don’t have to plead guilty and just hope for the best. Call (407) 349-4211 for a free consultation with an Orlando criminal defense lawyer at the Rivas Law Firm.