Brad Post: Welcome to our podcast. We are speaking to Tampa stolen car defense lawyer Mike Kenny. Mike how are you?
Michael D. Kenny, Attorney: I’m doing well. How are you?
B: Good. Mike is with the Bauer, Crider, Kenny and Parry, law firm out of the greater Tampa area. And we have been in this series talking about a robbery, burglary, and theft, property crimes and we’re going to wrap it up with stolen vehicle, stolen cars.
M: So, in the state of Florida stolen cars is characterized as a grand theft of a motor vehicle. Any time a person takes a car, or endeavors to take a car, he commits a third-degree felony.
B: Doesn’t depend on the value of the car at all?
M: No. You can steal a Hyundai, or you can steal a Cadillac, and it’s basically the same punishment. Now, it’s funny that you mentioned that. Because one of the issues that comes up on every criminal charge, a person gets convicted of a crime is ordered to pay any restitution as a result of that that criminal act. So, that maybe the restitution in the theft of Hyundai, and the damage to that vehicle might be not as significant as it is on a more expensive car. So, that something to think about. That might be the difference financially, but other than that, they’re punished the same. So it’s the grand theft of a motor vehicle. As I said before, it’s a third-degree felony which means it has a five-year cap, punishable by up to five years in prison. There is no minimum mandatory prison sentence for it. So, a person essentially can get probation, up to five years in prison.
One unique thing with a car type theft, we were talking about various types of theft charges and robbery charges when you combine a robbery with a car theft you get what we commonly refer to as carjacking. In Florida statute 812.133 there is a carjacking statute. Carjacking is the taking of a motor vehicle, which may be the subject of theft, for instance from someone else, and that a person uses force, violence, or assault, or putting in fear. Almost a same exact reading that the robbery statute has. Most of the time when I’ve handled carjacking cases, both as a prosecutor and otherwise, I usually see some type of weapon is used. And that’s significant because if a firearm or other deadly weapons is used, then a carjacking is a felony of the first-degree punishable by imprisonment not exceeding life, meaning punishable by life.
So if a person uses a gun, or if the person uses a knife, or any other object to take a car from another individual, that person has just graduated into a punishable by life felony. A regular carjacking, if there’s no weapon used, is still a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison. So, carjacking becomes a very serious crime. When we start talking about the Florida criminal punishment code and what things are punishable by, you generally have three degrees of felonies. You have a first-degree, a second-degree, and a third-degree. First-degree is pretty serious. That means it’s the most serious degreed crime punishable by up to 30 years in prison. And carjacking, any type of carjacking is a first-degree felony. Then you can do something to go past that 30 year cap, and make it a life felony, and that’s if you are using a firearm. So carjackings are punished very severely. I can remember when I was a prosecutor, years and years and years ago, like I said like robberies are crimes of desperation. Some elderly woman was getting her car in a grocery store to go shopping. Another person got inside the car and began to drive off, but the woman unfortunately wasn’t able to get herself unhinged, either her purse, if I can remember correctly, somehow got hooked into the car and this person drove, and ended of dragging her behind the car for some period of time. And I can remember being a prosecutor, the first thing prosecutor says, “Wow! Carjacking.” That is serious, and a prosecutor is going to come at you pretty seriously. Then add to that any damage or harm by another person, and needless to say, this person can face a very significant term of years the Department of Corrections.
It’s one of those cases that, if you’re involved in something like this, you’re going to want to make sure that you have somebody who knows what he’s doing, who knows the differences between the degrees, and what the State has to prove to establish a carjacking, and how this can be resolved most favorably.
B: Could you think of maybe one of the most interesting cases and that you’ve worked?
M: The most interesting case that was probably theft related. I’ve had plenty of theft-related cases on the defense side, and quite frankly that’s a lot of what I do. Especially when you start to get into some of the white-collar thefts. But, those aren’t always exciting. For some reason as a prosecutor you get to see the most exciting stuff because you see everything. Now, that the difference between a defense lawyer and a prosecutor, is a prosecutor sees every case there is. A defense lawyer sees the cases that come to him. So, the prosecutor sometimes sees the worst of the worst.
I can remember one case, I vividly remember, was basically a bank burglary. Where a person, in the middle of the night, went up to an ATM machine, and the thing about ATM machines is they all have video recording. This person out of his truck and begin to take a sledgehammer and smash the ATM machine and damaged it so much that he began to try to access the inside of the vault of the bank. And he crawled through, his body actually crawled through the ATM machine. And you have to think, when you cut this metal, and rip this metal apart, and he was there for like a half hour. What shocks me is that security did not arrive, you know, at that moment when he was there. But he rips through this metal, gets into the bank, and he’s actually made access inside of the bank. I remember one of the arguments that the defense lawyer was having was, “How can you prove he was inside the bank? Maybe he was inside the ATM machine.” And the unique thing is, this defendant cut himself inside by crawling through this machine, and his blood dripped onto the inside of the floor of the bank. And, of course that blood was tested for DNA, and that DNA matched this individual. But, what I think is the most unique thing about this case, that particular case, besides everything I’ve just said, was I’ll never forget, we have these surveillance pictures from the ATM machine, and I printed up these pictures that I plan to use in the trial, and I remember the defense lawyer showing the client the pictures. And the defense lawyer comes back and says, “My client says that’s not him.” It’s one of these cases where the guy looks right at himself and says, “That’s not me.” Which is, I guess, a tactic that some people might want to use. Very interesting.
B: All right. You have been listening to the floridadefense.com podcast. We’ve been in series on theft crimes. Today, we talked about Tampa stolen cars. And you’ve been speaking to Tampa stolen car defense lawyer Mike Kenny of the Bauer, Crider Kenny and Parry law firm. Join us for our next series of podcasts.