What can be done to get back property when someone stole personal journals from my residence?

Full Question:

I am recently divorced and found out while I was still living with my husband, before the divorce that my ex sister-in-law has taken from my bedroom my private journals (diaries). She has read the journals and posted some negative comments on Facebook referring to me and what she had read. How can I get my journals back? (Florida)
12/30/2010   |   Category: Civil Actions ยป Defamation   |   State: Florida   |   #23905


The crime of theft is usually defined as the unlawful taking of another person’s property without their consent and with the intent to permanently deprive the victim of the property. The legal term of larceny will also refer to other theft crimes such as robbery, fraud and embezzlement.

According to Florida statutes, a person commits “theft” is he or she "knowingly obtains or uses the property…of another with the intent to, either temporarily or permanently: deprive the person of a right to the property or a benefit from the property, OR appropriates the property to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to use of the property."

If the property stolen is valued between $100 and $299, then the defendant will be charged with a 1st Degree Misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail and a $1000 fine.

However, if the defendant has been convicted twice of any theft crime, then he/she will be charged with a 3rd Degree Felony (5 yrs/$5000 max penalty)

If the property stolen is valued at less than $100 or not specified in any other theft statute, then the defendant will be charged with a 2nd Degree Misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Publication of comments about another person can be considered defamation typically only when done deliberately or negligently and the statements are untrue.

Defamation is an act of communication that causes someone to be shamed, ridiculed, held in contempt, lowered in the estimation of the community, or to lose employment status or earnings or otherwise suffer a damaged reputation. Such defamation is couched in 'defamatory language'. Libel and slander are subcategories of defamation. Defamation is primarily covered under state law, but is subject to First Amendment guarantees of free speech. The scope of constitutional protection extends to statements of opinion on matters of public concern that do not contain or imply a provable factual assertion.

A statement, no matter how harmful, is not defamatory if the facts stated are true.

Florida law is similar to the law in other states as far as the main elements of defamation are concerned. Injury to the plaintiff must be demonstrated, as well as at least negligence on the part of the defendant. In a few respects, however, Florida law differs from other states.

In Florida, the statute of limitations for bringing a defamation claim is two years. The statute runs from the time of first publication. In other words, later repetition of the allegedly false statement does not extend the time limit for bringing a claim.