Theft Crimes Lawyer
Criminal Defense Attorney for Theft Charges
Don’t take an accusation of theft lightly. Even a shoplifting charge, which may seem like a minor offense can result in severe criminal penalties. Theft crimes are considered crimes of “moral turpitude” and a conviction can cause damage to your reputation and character for years to come.
There is a certain stigma attached to being branded a “thief.” It can affect your ability to find a job, secure housing, apply for loans, get into school and even put a strain on your personal relationships. Potential future employers, landlords, universities, or anyone else who performs a background check will be able to make assumptions about you based on your criminal record and may view you as someone who can’t be trusted.
Theft is the criminal act of knowingly taking property belonging to someone else with the intention of permanently depriving the owner of it. Theft crimes can range from petty theft like shoplifting, to the more severe crimes that involve the use or threat of force.
These crimes fall under the category of felonies. A felony theft conviction carries a potential prison sentence as punishment. Notable felony theft crimes include robbery, mugging, and carjacking. Another type of theft is a financial crime, also known as white collar crime which does not involve violence and involves business or government employees.
Theft Related Charges
There is a broad range of offenses that classify as “theft” crimes including but not limited to:
- Shoplifting: stealing retail merchandise without
- Robbery – taking someone else’s property through the use or threat of force
- Burglary – often referred to as Breaking and Entering, is the illegal entry into a building with the intent to commit a crime inside.
- White collar crimes (embezzlement, credit card theft, identity theft)
What Penalties Do I Face for a Theft Conviction?
Depending on the charge, you could be facing penalties such as:
- the court ordered restitution to the victim
- stiff fines and court fees
- community service
- time spent in jail or prison
The severity of punishment for a theft conviction can vary state substantially by state and relies on the following factors:
- the dollar value of the property stolen
- the use of threat, force, or violence
- the use of a weapon in the commission of the crime
- prior criminal convictions
Burden of Proof For Theft Crimes
To be convicted of theft, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt
- the alleged victim of the crime had a right to possess the item
- premeditated intent to permanently deprive the owner of his/her property
Petty Theft vs. Grand Theft
Petit theft,” sometimes called “petty theft,” is a misdemeanor crime that involves the act of taking something whose value is at or below a specified dollar amount. Theft statutes in your state will indicate what the minimum value of the property needs to be to constitute as petty theft. In general, a petty theft will usually involve an item that costs $300 to $1000.
Misdemeanor theft crimes are punishable by a sentence of up to one year or less in county jail, court fines, restitution to the victim, community service, and probation. For the first-time petty theft offenders, a criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate reduced penalties. When the value of stolen property exceeds the limit for petty theft, the crimes upgraded to grand theft. A criminal attorney should be skilled in the appraisal and valuation of assets.
Defense Strategies for Theft Charges
The basis of the Theft charges is often on weak evidence, exaggerated claims, and misunderstandings. An experienced theft crimes attorney
Falsely Accused — Where the accusation is intentionally false
Unreliable witness — The witness is not reliable
Duress — if someone forced you to commit a crime by threatening you with bodily injury or death,
Lack of Specific Intent — the central argument in the prosecution’s case is to show that you had a willful intent to steal. If they can’t prove intent beyond a reasonable doubt, they will not be able to convict you. A criminal defense attorney can challenge
A claim of right to property — it’s possible you took property from the alleged victim because you believed you had a “claim of right” to it. If you can provide a valid reason or evidence that the property is yours,
Intoxication — if you are intoxicated at the time the crime was committed, it can be argued that you did not knowingly intend to steal property
Return the property —
Entrapment — if you are coerced into committing theft by law enforcement