What is the Civil Theft? Under Florida Statute Section 772.11 (2020) plaintiffs must prove with clear and convincing evidence that they have had property or money taken, causing damages. This is in accordance with criminal theft statues found in Florida Statues Sections 812.012-812.037 or Section 825.103.
Florida Civil Theft Key Points
Before filing a lawsuit alleging civil theft, a written demand must be sent for $200 or three times the actual damages (whichever is greater) from the alleged thief.
The alleged thief can escape civil liability if the the demanded amount is paid within 30 days of receipt of the demand.
If the alleged thief pays, a lawsuit cannot be filed and he or she must be given a written release from further civil liability for the alleged theft.
If there is no payment, the plaintiff can file the civil theft lawsuit and sue for three times the actual damages as well as reasonable attorney's fees and costs.
The Florida civil theft statue also includes an attorney's fees provision to protect individuals or businesses from frivolous lawsuits. This means that if the claims are determined to have been made without substantial fact or legal support, the defendant is entitled to recover reasonable attorney's fees and costs.
The statute of limitations for a Florida civil theft claim is five years.
Civil Theft Scenarios
One example of civil theft is when a business partner intentionally takes money from the business to use for personal expenses, causing damages to the business. A simple breach of contract is not civil theft. When a person embezzles the money to use for personal use, this justifies an action for civil theft.
Another instance of civil theft is when a shoplifter steals from a business. The business owner can sue the shoplifter for the value of the stolen property.
What is "clear and convincing evidence"? Clear and convincing evidence is the burden of proof by which a civil theft claim is determined by a judge or jury. Clear and convincing evidence is a less rigorous burden of proof than beyond a reasonable doubt and a higher standard of proof than greater weight of the evidence. In a successful verdict, an attorney will have proven the civil theft claim evidence is precise, explicit, lacking in confusion, and of such weight that it produces a firm belief or conviction without hesitation about the matter in issue.
Contact Us for Passionate and Dedicated Representation
Call the Simpson-Cannon Law Firm at 561-721-6255 if you think you have a viable civil theft claim.
With over 20 years experience as a trial attorney and former prosecutor, Cynthia will fight to right the wrongs done against her clients.