When people have access to money that does not belong to them, it can often become a huge source of temptation. There are various types of theft, and taking money that is property of the government is one of the most serious offenses related to stealing. 

Local news for Destin, Florida reported on a man who was charged with crimes related to stealing social security payments for years before being caught.

Prosecutors find that the man spent thousands of dollars illegally over the course of years

Prosecutors argued that the man had been illegally collecting his mother’s social security benefits for approximately a decade after her death. The suspect had lived in Brandon, Florida, which is near the gulf coast and Tampa, for most of that time. After she had died in late 2009, he never reported the death to the social security administration. The retirement benefits continued for several years and he had been accessing them at various times for personal use. Prosecutors argued that he had spent just over $75,000 between the time of her death and June of 2019. 

The 54 year old male eventually plead guilty in federal court in Tampa to theft of government funds. He will likely spend six months in prison, then have to complete other court ordered conditions after release as a part of his sentence. These post release conditions include repaying much of the stolen money during his probation period. 

The process of proving a theft crime beyond all reasonable doubt

Criminal defense lawyers routinely deal with clients who have been charged with theft crimes by the state. The government must prove both an element of intent, and an overt action that involves taking or using something that belongs to another person or entity. Their ability to do this often depends on the type of evidence available and a number of other factors including witnesses, physical evidence, or documentation that can trace the crime to the person who is accused. 

The burden of proof

The burden of proof is one of the highest in all of the American legal system during a criminal case. The state must show that the defendant committed every element of the crime beyond all reasonable doubt to the jury. The difficulty of this task can vary greatly based on the specifics of each trial. At the conclusion, the jury will be instructed that they must acquit the defendant if they have not been convinced that the person is guilty while no reasonable doubt lingers in their minds. This is why it is so crucial for both the police and prosecutors to coordinate on evidence gathering. It may be difficult to secure a conviction based on only circumstantial evidence. 

Get help after being charged with any crime

If you need to speak to a Destin defense attorney, there is local help available. Schedule a meeting with the professionals at ASG Legal to learn about the possibility of getting the state’s charges reduced or dismissed. 

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