Anthony Keith Council v. State, CASE NO. 1D15–4382

CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)
Citation206 So.3d 155
Docket NumberCASE NO. 1D15–4382
Parties Anthony Keith COUNCIL, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee.
Decision Date12 December 2016

Nancy A. Daniels, Public Defender, Glenna Joyce Reeves, Assistant Public Defender, Tallahassee, for Appellant.

Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Sharon S. Traxler, Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.

B.L. THOMAS, J.

This case comes to us on direct appeal from Appellant's conviction for grand theft over $20,000, a first-degree felony, and burglary of a structure. Appellant appeals only his conviction and corresponding 20–year sentence for grand theft over $20,000. At trial, the State introduced evidence showing that Appellant broke into a Panama City law office and stole cash, savings bonds, silver coins, a laptop, and an assortment of jewelry including rings, necklaces, and bracelets. To establish the value of the stolen property, the State introduced testimony from the victim and his mother.

Appellant raises three issues on appeal: Whether the trial court erred in allowing the State to elicit testimony as to the value of two stolen diamond rings based solely on inadmissible hearsay; whether the trial court erred in failing to grant his motion for judgment of acquittal as to the property's value exceeding $20,000; and whether the trial court erred by imposing an illegal sentence. Because we agree with Appellant that the value of the two stolen diamond rings was based solely on inadmissible hearsay, we hold that the State failed to introduce competent, substantial evidence showing that the value of the stolen property exceeded $20,000, and we reverse and remand to the trial court to impose a sentence for grand theft over $10,000 but less than $20,000, a third-degree felony. § 924.34, Fla. Stat. (2016).

We review the trial court's denial of a motion for judgment of acquittal de novo. Sellers v. State, 838 So.2d 661, 662 (Fla. 1st DCA 2003). So long as the State introduced " ‘substantial, competent evidence to support the verdict and judgment,’ " the verdict will not be disturbed. Fritts v. State, 58 So.3d 430, 431 (Fla. 2011) (quoting Tibbs v. State, 397 So.2d 1120, 1123 (Fla. 1981) ). When a defendant is charged with theft over a specific amount, the element of value is an essential element that the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Cofield v. State, 474 So.2d 849, 850 (Fla. 1st DCA 1985). Value is defined as "the market value of the property at the time and place of the offense or, if such cannot be satisfactorily ascertained, the cost of replacement of the property within a reasonable time after the offense." § 812.012(10)(a)1., Fla. Stat. (2016).

Courts apply a two-pronged test to determine whether evidence is sufficient to prove the value of stolen property:

First, the court must determine whether the person testifying is competent to testify as to the value of the property. Second, if the person is competent, the court must ascertain whether the evidence adduced at trial is sufficient to prove that the property was worth over [the value alleged in the charge] at the time of the theft.

Sellers, 838 So.2d at 662. An owner of stolen property is presumed competent, because owners generally have personal knowledge as to "quality, cost, and condition of his property." Taylor v. State, 425 So.2d 1191, 1193 (Fla. 1st DCA 1983). However, "a property owner's mere guess at, or uninformed estimate of, the value of his...

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5 cases
  • Mace v. M&T Bank
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • March 25, 2020
    ...than that from his business" and remanding with directions to consider "only the evidence properly admitted"); Council v. State, 206 So. 3d 155, 156 (Fla. 1st DCA 2016) (reversing conviction after nonjury trial for grand theft where the State's evidence on value "constituted inadmissible he......
  • Garcia v. State
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • April 26, 2023
    ... ...          This ... case is on remand from the Florida Supreme Court for ... See § 924.34, Fla. Stat. (2013); ... Council v. State , 206 So.3d 155, 156 (Fla. 1st DCA ... 2016) ... ...
  • Garcia v. State
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • May 1, 2019
    ...is $1,000, Mr. Garcia's conviction must be reduced to third-degree grand theft. See § 924.34, Fla. Stat. (2013); Council v. State, 206 So. 3d 155, 156 (Fla. 1st DCA 2016) ("[W]e hold that the State failed to introduce competent, substantial evidence showing that the value of the stolen prop......
  • Harris v. State
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • January 8, 2020
    ...life experience to establish value of goods for a violation of the grand theft statute). Bruce, 276 So. 3d at 4.In Council v. State , 206 So. 3d 155, 157 (Fla. 1st DCA 2016), evidence of value was similarly held to be legally insufficient to support a grand theft charge. There, the owner of......
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