$32K of Stolen Jewelry Displayed on TikTok Results in Grand Theft Charge
September 30, 2022 Don Pumphrey, Jr. Criminal Defense, News & Announcements, Theft/Property Crimes Social Share
Stealing is against the law, even if it was from someone you know. Florida has various charges that cover theft, including the more severe charge of grand theft.
A recent case in Florida covers a foreign national who was arrested for stealing over $30,000 worth of jewelry from someone she met in Miami. We will cover details of the case along with information on theft and foreign nationals getting arrested in Florida.
What was the Incident?
On September 21st, 2022, Marielys Valencia Martinez was arrested at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport after she was accused of grand theft. According to the report, Martinez had flown into Miami in December 2021 to meet up with a man she met online.
The two had spoken online for two months before she flew to Florida to visit him. On December 4th, 2021, the victim picked up Martinez from her hotel room so they could go out to a restaurant. When they arrived at the parking garage, the victim saw a sign that advised people to remove any valuables from their vehicles.
The victim then proceeded to pull out a plastic bag that contained two diamond rings and a diamond bracelet. During the dinner Martinez questioned the victim about the jewelry, asking what its value was and if she could wear it.
The victim allowed her to wear the jewelry while they were out at a Miami nightclub but did not indicate how much it was worth. Once back at the victim’s apartment, Martinez returned the items, and they were placed inside a jewelry box on top of a shelf.
Sometime between 3 am and 5 am, Martinez requested to be driven back to her hotel room. The victim reported to have seen the jewelry box still on the shelf when they left, but he did not realize that its contents had been removed.
Later the next day, Martinez flew back home to Columbia. Several days later, the victim saw Martinez’s posts on both Instagram and TikTok—where she was wearing his jewelry.
The victim asked Martinez on the messaging app WhatsApp to return the stolen jewelry, but she replied that it was too expensive to ship it back to the U.S. via mail. She claimed she would return the jewelry once she flew back to Miami in February.
The following is a text message sent from Martinez:
“The jewels are here with me. I do not want to spend my money sending anything less after being threatened by the police with jail and my visa. Until I enter the United States without my problems, I will not return anything…It’s simple, here are the jewels. I want to return them, why can’t you wait for me to return? What you [expletive] problem.”
Martinez never returned to Miami, but instead flew into Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday. Broward Sheriff’s Office arrested and charged Martinez with grand theft. She is currently in custody at the Paul Rein Detention Facility in Pompano Beach for an immigration hold.
Incriminating Posts on Social Media
There are millions of people using social media each day—whether they favor Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok. Social media is a great way for people to connect with others across the globe, but there are downsides to it as well. Whatever you post on social media can be used against you in a criminal case.
We previously covered the TikTok trend, the “Orbeez Challenge,” where people posted incriminating evidence of them shooting innocent bystanders with an Orbeez water pellet gun. Similar to the case mentioned above, posting a picture or video with incriminating evidence can be used by the authorities and again in court during a criminal proceeding.
One example of how social media can be incriminating is by posting threats online. Florida’s Legislature has adopted a new law to better explain the crime of written or electronic threats, which is codified under Florida Statute Section 836.10:
“As used in this section, the term “electronic record” means any record created, modified, archived, received, or distributed electronically which contains any combination of text, graphics, video, audio, or pictorial represented in digital form.”
Pumphrey Law Firm does not encourage any illegal activities. We wish to educate our readers about the potential hazards posting to social media can cause during a criminal case. To find out more about how social media can be used in court, read our informative page here.
Grand Theft in Florida
Grand theft occurs when a someone steals items or property valued at $750 or more. Florida Statute Section 812.014 covers theft charges in Florida and explains that a grand theft conviction can result in various penalties depending on the value of the stolen property:
- For stolen property valued between $750 and $20,000, the offense is considered a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison, 5 years of probation, and a fine of up to $5,000.
- For stolen property valued between $20,000 and $100,000, the offense is considered a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, 15 years of probation, and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Any stolen property valued over $100,000 is classified as a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
To read more about grand theft charges in Florida, visit our blog post here.
Grand Theft Defenses
One of the possible defenses to grand theft is if the defendant was under the impression that the owner of the stolen property had given them consent to take said property. For the aforementioned case, the defendant had worn the jewelry the entire night she and the victim had been out in Miami. She could have believed that the victim was okay with her taking the jewelry with her.
Another defense is lack of intent. If the defendant had a good faith belief that they owned the property or had some possessory interest in it, that belief could serve as a defense as grand theft is a specific intent crime.
To figure out what defense works with your grand theft case, contact a skilled defense attorney in your area.
Foreign Nationals Arrested in Florida
There are certain criteria for individuals who are not U.S. citizens who have been arrested in Florida. Included in the criteria is for the law enforcement agency responsible for the arrest or detention to notify the country’s consular representatives in the United States. A person’s consular official from the home country can often help obtain legal counsel, contact their family, or visit them while in detention.
Regardless of the detained person’s legal status in the U.S., Florida law has special procedures for the arrest and detention of foreign nationals. Florida Statute Section 901.26 explains that the failure to provide consular notification under the Vienna Convention or Consular Relations or other bilateral consular conventions shall not be a defense in any criminal proceeding against a foreign national. It shall also not be the cause for the foreign national’s discharge from custody.
The law enforcement agency that has arrested or detained the foreign national must determine the mandatory requirements after identifying the defendant’s home country. Even if the person’s country is not on the mandatory notification list, the individual is still required to be offered to notify their foreign consular officials of the arrest or detention status.
Listed below are resources that can be used by a foreign citizen who has been arrested in the state of Florida:
- Procedures for the Arrest of Foreign Nationals – The Department of State’s website has guidance, instructions, and forms to help with the arrest and detention of foreign nationals. There are also prepared statements provided which can be offered to the foreign national with translations in multiple languages. The suggested statements apply when consular notification is at the foreign nation’s option and when it is mandatory.
- Guidelines for the Arrest of Foreign Nations in the U.S. – The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) has special advisory guidelines that cover the arrest and detention of a foreign national. The guidelines explain the obligations of law enforcement officers and how they are not different when dealing with a foreign national. On the site there is also a list of mandatory notification countries and jurisdictions which include the special rules for persons who carry certain passports.
Finding a Defense Attorney in Florida
If you or a loved one are arrested for a theft crime, your first step should be to contact a skilled defense attorney. It can be extremely stressful to navigate the legal world. Having an experienced attorney on your side can help build a strong defense for your case. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have represented clients all across the state for various criminal charges. Call us for a free consultation today at (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message
Written by Karissa Key