“State of Emergency” Crimes

Did you know that some crimes are more serious when committed during a “state of emergency”? Crimes enhanced under Section 812.014 for theft, robbery, and related crimes are sometimes called anti-looting laws

On Monday, March 9, 2020, the Governor in Florida declared a state of emergency under Chapter 252, the “State Emergency Management Act” for every county in Florida because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

For some types of crimes committed during a state of emergency, the penalties are more serious if the crime was committed within a county that was subject to a state of emergency and if the perpetration of the crime was facilitated by conditions arising from the emergency.

For example, during this state of emergency, crimes for theft, robbery, and burglary are classified as one degree higher. For example, if you are charged with a grand theft in the third degree, the offense becomes a second-degree felony when committed during a state of emergency.

If you are charged with burglary of an unoccupied structure during a state of emergency (BURG0021), the crime is charged as a second-degree felony instead of a third-degree felony.

Attorney for State of Emergency Crimes in Tampa, FL

If you were charged with theft, burglary, robbery, or related crime during a state of emergency, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm.

After an arrest for a crime charged under Section 812.014 for “Theft, Robbery and Related Crimes” committed during a state of emergency, contact us.

Our main office is located in downtown Tampa, FL. We also have a second office located in New Port Richey in Pasco County, FL.

We fight robbery, burglary and theft crimes throughout the greater Tampa Bay area including in Hernando County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, Manatee County, Sarasota County, and Polk County, FL.

Call 813-250-0500.

Crimes Facilitated by Conditions Arising in an Emergency

Consider the fact that pursuant to Section 812.014 for “Theft, Robbery and Related Crimes” the statute provides, in part:

…if the [crime is committed] within a county that is subject to a state of emergency declared by the Governor under chapter 252, the [crime] is committed after the declaration of emergency is made, and the perpetration of the [crime] is facilitated by conditions arising from the emergency, the [crime is classified as one degree higher].

As used in this paragraph, the term “conditions arising from the emergency” means civil unrest, power outages, curfews, voluntary or mandatory evacuations, or a reduction in the presence of or response time for first responders or homeland security personnel.

For purposes of sentencing under chapter 921, a felony offense that is reclassified under this paragraph is ranked one level above the ranking under s. 921.0022 or s. 921.0023 of the offense committed.

The statute is vague because whether “the perpetration of the crime is facilitated by conditions arising from the emergency” isn’t clearly specified. Especially since the COVID-19 emergency has now lasted for more nearly five (5) months.

The public policy behind the enhancement applies more to hurricane-type scenarios instead of global pandemics.

As a result, many complain that the “state of emergency” enhancements might lead to more selective enforcement by law enforcement.

Selective enforcement is problematic for several reasons, including the fact that the bond amount is typically much higher for crimes committed during a state of emergency. The higher bond might lead to a person being detained in custody on a pre-trial basis for much longer.

This article was last updated on Thursday, July 30, 2020.