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Under Florida law a chop shop is defined as any area, building or other place where one or more persons are engaged in altering, dismantling or reassembling stolen motor vehicles in a way to conceal their identity. Law enforcement does not have to locate evidence that suspects present at the chop shop sold or attempted to sell the items, and the state does not have to prove intent to sell at trial. If police locate two or more stolen vehicles or major components from two or more stolen vehicles, they will likely charge all persons present with operating a chop shop. The term motor vehicle has a broad definition under the Florida chop shop law, and can include any type of device that transports people on a highway such as cars, motorcycles, dirt bikes, scooters and golf carts. The law also includes vehicles that are not designed to travel on the highway such as farm machinery, backhoes and bulldozers. If you have been charged related to a chop shop bust it is advisable to contact an attorney immediately. Even if charges have not been filed it is important to contact a lawyer if you think you may be a suspect, as a lawyer can prevent the police from attempting to question you about your involvement. Benjamin Herbst is a South Florida criminal defense lawyer who specializes in defending clients charged with operating a chop shop. He has successfully defended clients in all South Florida courts including Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County, and also fights for clients who have been charged in Martin and St. Lucie County. Benjamin is available 7 days a week to discuss your case at (954) 543-0305, and has flexible meeting schedules in his Fort Lauderdale and West Palm offices.
Operating a chop shop is a third-degree felony under Florida law, which carries a maximum penalty of up to 5 years in prison. In addition to jail time and a possible felony conviction, defendants convicted of operating a chop shop may also be forced to pay heavy fines and restitution to the victim or the insurance company. The state may also confiscate any tools or vehicles that were used in the chop shop including tow-trucks that were otherwise lawfully owned. Any part that cannot be identified at the property will be presumed to be stolen, and this includes items that are otherwise legal purchased by the defendant. Law enforcement will almost always err on the side of caution and confiscate everything they think may be stolen, which could include thousands of dollars of tools, parts and vehicles.
Benjamin represents clients charged with operating a chop shop in all jurisdictions from Miami-Dade to St. Lucie County. He has years of experienced representing defendants in the Tri-County area as well as the Treasure Coast, and is always available to offer a free consultation. Benjamin provides all clients with his cell phone number for access on nights and weekends, and is never too busy to provide an update on the case. The first order of business will always be assuring that his clients are released from jail, and once he secures their release, Benjamin will do everything in his power to assure they never go back. He fights to have the charges dismissed or reduced and does not back down from a jury trial if a fair resolution cannot be reached. Call South Florida criminal defense lawyer Benjamin Herbst to find out what defenses may be available to you in your chop shop case, and start fighting back against the state. Benjamin represents adults and juveniles in all South Florida courts, and is standing by to take on your case.