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Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Really Help with Theft Charges?

Nov 06, 2020
Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Really Help with Theft Charges?

If you have been charged with theft, you probably need the services of a skilled theft lawyer to ensure that you have the best possible defense. A theft conviction can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. Felony or misdemeanor, you do not want that conviction on your record.

Legal Definition
Theft means you took someone else’s property with the intent to deprive them of it permanently. The punishment you receive depends on the severity of the charges. For example, stealing jeans from a department store gets you lesser charges than stealing a car from a parking lot. If you use a weapon while committing theft, it is a more severe crime.

Legal Definition of Property
Property is broadly defined under the law. This is because there are many types of property. Depending on the type of property you allegedly stole, your attorney at Keller Law Offices will review the best ways to defend you against the theft charge. Common types of property that may involve theft are as follows:

  • Land and things attached to the land
  • Moveable property such as vehicles, computers, guns, cash, and jewelry
  • Valuable documents such as bonds, titles, and certificates
  • A person’s personal information or company trade secrets
  • Personal services, such as food at an eatery - better known as dine and dash

Penalties for Theft
A theft penalty depends on the circumstances, including how much the item is worth, your criminal past, whether you used a weapon, and how serious the crime is. Penalties are more severe for felonies than misdemeanors.

If you are a repeat offender, you probably will get a stricter penalty and less leniency. Many states have various tiers for theft crimes. You will generally serve a longer sentence, the more valuable the property is, but some states say certain thefts are always felonies no matter the property value. An example is vehicle theft crimes.

Defenses for Theft
Your theft attorney can help you craft an effective defense. Your attorney will review all of the evidence and determine if one or more of the defenses make sense:

  • Taking the property was a mistake. You accidentally deprived someone of their property and intended to return it. For example, you may be accused of stealing someone’s iPhone. But iPhones often look alike, and maybe you grabbed another person’s phone by accident without looking at it carefully.
  • You own the property you took. Your attorney must prove that the property is actually yours by showing a bill of sale, receipt, title, etc.
  • You were authorized to use the property. Sometimes a person tells someone it is ok for another person to use their car, but they forget about it. You would need witnesses to support your story that the person permitted you to use the vehicle.

Other defenses could be possible too, and your attorney will review those, as well. If you have mitigating factors, your attorney will raise them to lower your sentence or get the case dismissed hopefully. Mitigating factors can include:

  • No criminal history
  • Showing remorse
  • Cooperation
  • Age

Do You Need a Lawyer if You Are Charged with Theft?

Whether it is a petty or grand theft charge, you are almost always better served with a theft lawyer in your corner. They can review your charges and determine the best way to mount a good defense.

Experienced attorneys are also familiar with prosecutors and judges in their area and may reduce charges. They also know your state’s theft laws, penalties, and specific defenses that may be successful.

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