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Clearwater man accused of two thefts on beach

While in school studying to become a criminal defense attorney, I supplemented my income as a Clearwater Beach Lifeguard. During my days at work, it would be rare for an entire day to go by without a beach patron to approach me and say “someone stole my bag!” Unfortunately, thefts of personal property can, and do occur on Clearwater Beach rather frequently. In addition to the legal discussion below, take a lesson from this article and always keep an eye on your belongings while enjoying the beautiful Gulf of Mexico at Clearwater Beach.

Joshua W. Timmons, of 1606 Sherwood Drive, took the belongings of two different sets of beachgoers who left their bags unattended while swimming, Clearwater police spokeswoman Elizabeth Watts said. As Timmons stole the second bag, two eyewitnesses notified the owners and began to follow him as he walked away down the beach. When one of the victims started to run after him, Timmons began to run away, dropping the second bag in the process. Clearwater Police stopped Timmons shortly thereafter and recovered some of the stolen property from the first bag theft. Timmons was then arrested and charged with two counts of Grand Theft and one count ofPossession of Marijuana. According to Clearwater Police, the bags contained cell phones, jewelry, and keys.

From a criminal defense perspective, Mr. Timmons may not have many defenses here. We have two eyewitnesses that can place him at the scene and would testify that they saw him take the second bag, which didn’t belong to him. Even though he dropped the second bag, he can still be charged with Grand Theft (we are assuming the the bag contained more than $300) because even an attempt of a theft can be charged the same as if the crime was completed.

Mr. Timmons’ factual scenario brings up an interesting portion of Florida law that most people should know about. For instance, assume Mr. TImmons committed a misdemeanor offense (instead of a Grand Theft felony) outside of a police officer’s presence. In that situation, the officer may not make a warrantless arrest of Mr. Timmons unless the misdemeanor crime falls within several exceptions, such as domestic batteryand about 17 others. If the officer makes a warrantless arrest for a misdemeanor committed outside his presence that does not fall within one of the exceptions, an experienced Clearwater criminal defense lawyer may ultimately be able to have the charges dismissed, as the arrest would be deemed illegal.

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