Failure to Return Leased Property

Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorneys Representing the Accused

In today’s economy, where wages have been driven down and costs only seem to go up, businesses have begun to take advantage of the trend by offering new business models such as liberal financing and leasing products. Whether you are renting furniture and electronics from Rent-A-Center or renting a car from Hertz, a new piece of property might just be a monthly payment away. Unfortunately, with these new services come new types of criminal offenses. Those who are too late on their payments or who simply never return the leased property may be charged with a crime.

Though you may have these items in your home or have a car parked in your driveway, that does not mean that they “belong” to you. The leasing company or rental service still owns the items and simply allows their customers to physically possess these products in exchange for consistent payments. Failure to make those payments or otherwise violating the agreement can actually result in criminal charges known as failing to return leased property. If you have been charged with such an offense, it is crucial that you retain an experienced Clearwater criminal defense attorney to represent you.


Failure to return leased property encompasses a multitude of different factual scenarios. Under Florida Statute 812.155(1), you can be charged with obtaining property by trick or false representation. Obtaining property by trick is a second degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail or six months of probation. The prosecution can prove you guilty of this offense if they can prove that you obtained property with the intent to defraud the true owner by using some sort of false representation or trick.

Under subsection 2 of the statute, the prosecution can prove you guilty of hiring or leasing with the intent to defraud if they can show evidence that you hired or leased personal property and, at the time, intended to defraud the owner of that property. This offense is also a second degree misdemeanor, although it can be upgraded to a third degree felony if the value of the property is greater than $300.

Finally, under subsection 3, you can be charged with failure to return hired or leased personal property. You can be charged with this offense if you leased or rented property and agreed with the renter to return the property after a set period of time. If the renter demands the return of the property and you fail or refuse to do so, you may be charged with the offense of failure to return leased or hired personal property. If you find yourself charged with any of the three crimes discussed above, you should immediately reach out to a committed Clearwater criminal defense lawyer.

Failure to return leased or hired personal property most often involves the rental of motor vehicles. Chain rental agencies like Hertz, Sixt, and budget car rental have location all over the state. There are also smaller mom-and-pop run rental agencies, usually located near airports and other travel hubs. The large agencies usually have thorough contracts that spell out when and how you must return the leased property, and it is often clear from the wording of the contract when a criminal charge can be filed.

If you have been accused of failing to return the property of an agency that used a more ambiguous contract or one that had no contract at all, you might be entitled to assert some defenses to the crime. The criminal statute requires very specific language to be included in the contract in order for the rental agency to lawfully bring criminal charges. A dedicated Clearwater Criminal lawyer will be able to examine that contract and determine what defenses you have.

Speak to a Lawyer Today

If you find yourself charged with failure to redeliver hired or leased property, the lawyers at Hanlon Law can help you build the best defense for your case. Call us today at (727) 897-5413.