19 French Bulldog Puppies Taken from Florida Home – Grand Theft Charges

November 23, 2022 Criminal Defense, News & Announcements, Theft/Property Crimes

An ongoing case in Hillsborough County is seeking information about a theft case involving puppies worth more than $100,000. Four people have since been arrested for the burglary, but only 6 out of 19 puppies have been found.

This article will provide details from the case, along with information on Dealing in Stolen Property charges in Florida and some possible Defenses and Exceptions.

What was the Incident?

Four individuals in Port St. Lucie have been arrested in relation to an ongoing theft investigation. According to the report, Laurence Mitchell, Destiny Del Campo, Jordan Brown, and Cynthia Galarza have been accused of stealing 19 French Bulldog puppies. The stolen puppies are valued at over $100,000.

Commander Leo Niemczyk of the Port St. Lucie police department explained that the puppies are “quite valuable actually. Some of them go even in excess of $20,000, depending on their attributes.”

The suspects allegedly shattered the bedroom window of a home on November 4th, 2022. The residents were not home at the time, and around 11 am the four suspects snuck into the home to take all 19 of the puppies. According to surveillance footage, the suspects left the home in a silver four-door vehicle with damage along the front bumper.

The Port St. Lucie Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division and SWAT team arrived at the home of Laurence Mitchell, 19, and Destiny Del Campo, 18 with a search warrant. After searching the premises, authorities were able to retrieve 5 of the 19 puppies that were stolen. A sixth puppy was later found in Indiantown after being sold.

According to deputies, Mitchell and Del Campo were both arrested and charged with grand theft and dealing in stolen property. Mitchell received additional charges of robbery by sudden snatching after being identified as the suspect in an unrelated incident. Mitchell allegedly pushed a 77-year-old woman to the ground and stole her purse outside a Publix.

Detectives obtained another search warrant for the two other suspects, Jordan Brown, 18, and Cynthia Galarza, 20. Brown is currently facing charges of burglary, grand theft, dealing in stolen property, and tampering with evidence. Galarza is facing the charge of accessory after the fact.

As there are still another 13 French Bulldog puppies missing, the case is still ongoing. Investigators suspect that the remaining 13 puppies may have already been sold. The six puppies that were found were already returned to their owners, according to police.

For any information regarding the missing French Bulldog puppies, contact detectives at (772) 871-5000.

Dealing in Stolen Property in Florida

Florida Statute section 812.019 defines dealing in stolen property as when any person traffics in or attempts to traffic in property that he or she knows or should know was stolen. A dealing in stolen property charge is considered a second-degree felony in Florida. A second-degree felony has a penalty of up to a $10,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison.

In addition, any person who initiates, organizes, finances, directs, manages, or supervises the theft of property and traffics in such stolen property can be charged with a first-degree felony in Florida. A first-degree felony has a penalty of up to a $10,000 fine and up to 30 years of imprisonment.

Accessory after the Fact Charges

A person who assists someone in evading arrest, trial, conviction, or punishment after the commission of a felony can be charged with accessory after the fact. Florida Statute section 777.03 codifies accessory after the fact, with the penalties varying depending on the severity of the alleged crime by the defendant.

For sentencing purposes, the statute explains that the offense of accessory after the fact is ranked two levels below in the crime’s offense severity ranking chart. For instance, if the alleged offense was a third-degree felony ranked in level 1 or 2 under 921.0022 or 921.0023, the accessory after the fact charge is considered a first-degree misdemeanor. If the alleged offense is a third- or second-degree felony ranked in levels 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10, the accessory after-the-fact charge is considered a third-degree felony.

If the alleged offense was a first-degree felony or life felony, then the accessory after the fact charge is considered a second-degree felony. If the alleged offense is considered a capital felony, the offense of accessory after the fact is considered a first-degree felony.

Related Person Exemption

Any person accused of accessory after the fact should be familiar with the “related persons exemption.” In Florida, the accessory after the fact statute provides that an individual cannot be charged with accessory after the fact if they are related to the suspect by being one of the following:

  • Spouse
  • Parent
  • Child
  • Grandchild
  • Sibling (by blood or marriage)

The following is a list of potential family members who would not be granted the related persons exemption:

  • Aunt
  • Uncle
  • Cousin
  • Mother/Father of a shared child (unless married)
  • Girlfriend/Boyfriend

However, this exception does not apply to offenders who commit capital crimes, a first-degree or second-degree felony, those who were an accessory before the crime took place, and for offenses related to child abuse.

Also, if you are being charged with accessory to a crime of child abuse but you are also a victim, this could be a defense you or your defense attorney can raise at trial.

To find out what defense works best for your particular case, contact an experienced defense attorney in your area.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

If you or a loved one have been accused of a theft crime, it is imperative to seek out legal advice. It is a difficult task to navigate the legal world, especially if you attempt to go it alone. By working with a skilled Florida criminal defense attorney, you can build a strong defense for your case.

Pumphrey Law Firm has represented clients across the panhandle for various criminal charges. We promise to stand by your side throughout the entire process and to fight for your future. Contact Don Pumphrey and his team today for a free consultation at (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message on our website.

Written by Karissa Key

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