Failing to Return Leased Property in FL

Failing to return rented or leased property in Florida can result in a person being charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the value of the property that the alleged offender failed to return.

Under these circumstances, it is crucial that anyone planning to sign a lease or a rental agreement read the requirements of returning such property carefully.

In Florida, a person who allows an individual to lease property must provide notice to the lessee that the property must be returned. If you received a notice such as this, comply immediately to avoid criminal penalties.

Attorney for Failure to Return Leased Property in Ft. Lauderdale, FL

If you or someone you know has failed to return leased property because you were under the belief that you could keep the property for extra time, or if the lessor made promises to you and later reneged, then contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Bacchus & Navarro Law Group.

Our attorneys are dedicated criminal defense attorneys who zealously advocate for the rights of criminal defendants.

We take cases throughout the Miami-metropolitan area. Our clients are located in Broward County, FL, and in the surrounding counties of Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Hendry, and Collier County, Florida.


Broward County Failing to Return Leased Property Information Center


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Elements of Failing to Return Leased Property under  §  812.155

Failing to return leased property can easily go from a civil offense to a criminal one. The prosecution must first prove all of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt to convict:

  • the defendant hired or leased personal property or equipment from the victim or his or her agent;
  • the defendant agreed to return the property or equipment to the victim, as part of the hiring or leasing, at the end of the period for which the property or equipment was hired or leased;
  • the defendant knowingly abandoned, refused to return the property or equipment as agreed; and
  • the defendant did so without the victim or his or her agent's consent.

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Consequences of Failing to Return Leased Property in FL

Depending on the value of the property that the offender failed to return, the Florida prosecutor may charge an offender with a misdemeanor or felony theft.

Second -degree misdemeanor – when the value of the property or agreed to be returned is less than $300, then the offense is charged as a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to sixty (60) days in jail and up to $500 fines.

Third -degree felony – when the value of the personal property or equipment is $300 or more, then the offense is charged as a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five (5) years in prison and up to $5,000 fines.


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Fraudulent Intent Evidence under  §  812.155

Under Florida Statute § 812.155(3), a prosecutor may use any of the following as evidence of an alleged offender's fraudulent intent:

  • removing or attempting to remove the property or equipment from the country without the express written consent of the lessor;
  • obtaining the property or equipment under false pretenses; or
  • absconding without payment.

Moreover, under Section 812.155(4), if a demand for the return of leased property is made and the offender fails to redeliver the property or equipment within five (5) days after receiving the demand, then such a failure is prima facie evidence of abandonment or refusal to redeliver leased property or equipment.

Lastly, under Subsection (c), the prosecution may use as prima facie evidence of abandonment or refusal, the failure to pay any amount due, which is incurred as the result of the failure to redeliver property or equipment after the rental period expires, and after the demand for return is made.

The Florida Legislature has defined "amounts due" to include unpaid rental for the period in which the property or equipment was not returned to the property owner, including the cost to repair or replace any damaged property.


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Required Notice under Florida Law

In order for a prosecutor to file charges against an alleged offender for failing to return leased property, the owner or lessor must provide notice to the defendant in the leasing agreement or as an addendum the following statement:

"[f]ailure to return rental property or equipment upon expiration of the rental period and failure to pay all amounts due (including costs for damage to the property or equipment) are evidence of abandonment or refusal to redeliver the property, punishable in accordance with Section 812.155, Florida Statutes."

Moreover, the property owner must initial the requisite notice statement for it to be effective.

Demand for Return of Leased Property

For any leased property or equipment that has not been returned in accordance with the signed agreement between the parties, the property owner should send a written demand to the lessee for the return of leased property.  Florida Statute § 812.155(5) states that the demand for returned property may be made in the following ways:

  • by hand delivery in person;
  • by return receipt requested;
  • by certified mail;
  • by courier service with tracking capabilities; or
  • by mail addressed to the lessee's address shown in the rental contract.

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Additional Resources

Fla. Stat. § 812.0155 – Visit Online Sunshine, the official website of the Florida Legislature for more information on the criminal consequences of failing to return leased property or equipment. The Statute also provides additional information on the requirements for demands, notices, and fraudulent intent claims.


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Find a Lawyer for Failing to Return Leased Property in Broward County, FL

If you have been given a notice to return leased property in Broward County, but you kept the property under the belief that your agreement with the property owner was extended and you are now facing criminal charges, then contact an experienced Florida lawyer in the Miami-metropolitan area for more information about how to fight these charges.

The attorneys at Bacchus & Navarro Law Group have years of experience fighting cases in Florida courts. Hiring a former Assistant State Attorney who knows the requirements that state attorneys must meet to successfully file charges for failure to return leased property is invaluable.

Our attorneys take theft cases such as grand theft, petty theft, and even embezzlement throughout Broward County, FL, and in the surrounding areas of Palm Beach County, Collier County, Miami-Dade County, and Hendry County Florida.

If you or someone you know has had a claim filed against him or her in West Palm Beach, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or East Naples in Florida, and you need the experience of a seasoned attorney who has practiced on both sides of the legal spectrum, then contact Bacchus & Navarro Law Group.

Call (954) 500-5555 for more information our attorneys or to set up a no-obligations consultation.


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