Civil Theft

November 10, 2023

young businesswoman taking photo's of document secretly kept on desk in officeThe Florida Civil Theft Statute, detailed in Chapter 772 of the Florida Statutes, offers a vital civil remedy for victims of theft, allowing them to seek compensation beyond the criminal justice system. This statute is especially significant due to its provision for treble damages, a feature that greatly enhances the potential financial recovery for victims.

Under this statute, victims of theft can file a lawsuit to recover the actual value of the stolen property. However, the standout feature of this statute is the ability to claim treble damages. This means that if the plaintiff is successful in proving their case, they can be awarded three times the actual value of the stolen property. The inclusion of treble damages serves two main purposes: firstly, it provides substantial compensation to the victim, often exceeding the actual value of the stolen property. Secondly, it acts as a strong deterrent against theft, as the possibility of having to pay triple the value of the stolen item can discourage potential offenders.

Before initiating a lawsuit under the civil theft statute, the plaintiff must make a written demand for the return of the stolen property, giving the alleged thief a chance to rectify the situation. If the defendant fails to respond or return the property within a set period, usually 30 days, the plaintiff can proceed with legal action.

An additional critical aspect of the statute is the provision for the recovery of attorney’s fees and court costs. This is particularly important as it can mitigate the financial burden on victims seeking legal action. If the plaintiff prevails, they are entitled to recover these expenses from the defendant, further emphasizing the reparative nature of the statute.

Contrasting with the higher burden of proof required in criminal cases, civil theft cases are adjudicated on the balance of probabilities. This lower standard, “preponderance of the evidence,” makes it more feasible for victims to achieve a successful outcome in civil court.

Finally, the statute includes a specific statute of limitations, highlighting the importance of timely legal action following a theft incident.

In summary, the Florida Civil Theft Statute is a crucial legal mechanism for victims of theft. Its provision for treble damages, coupled with the ability to recover legal fees, not only provides a significant avenue for financial recovery but also serves as a powerful deterrent against theft. This statute complements the criminal justice system, offering victims an essential route for seeking compensation and justice.

Civil theft in Florida is distinctly different from criminal theft. While criminal theft involves the unlawful taking of someone’s property with the intent to deprive the owner of it permanently, leading to potential criminal sanctions, civil theft refers to a similar action but is addressed in a civil lawsuit. The Florida civil theft statute allows victims to seek compensation through civil courts.

This distinction is crucial for businesses, as civil theft can directly impact their financial and operational integrity. With the help of experienced business litigation attorneys in Palm Harbor, FL, you will have comprehensive legal representation to navigate the intricacies of your civil theft case.

Civil Theft Issues

Businesses often confront various legal disputes regarding civil theft. These may include:

  • Misappropriation of Trade Secrets: This involves the unauthorized use or disclosure of confidential business information that provides a competitive edge. This can include formulas, practices, designs, or any proprietary knowledge that is central to a company’s success.
  • Embezzlement of Funds: This is where an individual entrusted with handling the company’s finances illegally appropriates them. This can manifest in various forms, from siphoning off small amounts over a prolonged period to large-scale fraudulent activities.
  • Theft of Proprietary Information: This encompasses a broad spectrum of scenarios, from pilfering customer databases to stealing software codes.

Civil Remedy for Theft

Under the Florida civil theft statute, businesses victimized by theft have the avenue to pursue significant financial restitution. This law uniquely empowers them to seek treble damages, allowing for the recovery of three times the value of the property or assets stolen. Moreover, the statute also entitles victims to recover attorney fees and court costs, which is a crucial factor in the decision to pursue legal action.

In business litigation cases involving civil theft, it is essential to have knowledgeable attorneys who understand both the legal and business implications. Our business litigation attorneys in Palm Harbor, FL at of Robert Eckard & Associates, P.A. will work diligently to investigate the incident, gather necessary evidence, and present a compelling case in court to protect our clients’ interests.

Contact us today for a consultation to ensure your business’s interests are safeguarded in the face of civil theft.

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