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What Are Some Penalties for Theft Crimes?
Penalties for theft crimes will vary depending on the type of crime involved. For instance, for petty theft, shoplifting, and less serious theft crimes, a citation may be issued. This may involve a fine and other less serious penalties like community service.
For more serious misdemeanor theft crimes, such as theft by deception involving $1,500 or less, the penalties begin to increase to include higher fines. Jail time may be introduced, especially for repeat offenses. However, jail sentences for misdemeanors do not exceed one year.
Lastly, for felony theft offenses like robbery, burglary, and armed robbery, penalties can include prison sentences of greater than one year, and higher criminal fines. The defendant may also be required to pay the victim criminal restitution, which is similar to a damages award in a civil case.
Are There Any Defenses to Theft Charges?
Like any criminal case, there may be defenses to some theft charges. A common theft defense is that of mistake. For instance, if the defendant mistakenly believed that they were taking their own property, it may serve as a defense in some cases. This is because most state laws include the intent to permanently deprive a person of their belongings as an element of proof for theft. That is, the defendant must believe that they are stealing someone else’s property and not merely taking their own property.
Other defenses may apply, such as intoxication, especially where the intoxication cancels out the person’s criminal mind state. Lastly, duress can sometimes be a defense to theft. This is where the defendant is forced under threat of harm or violence to perform the theft act.
Can Theft Sentences Be Reduced or Dropped?
Theft is a rather unique criminal charge in terms of penalties and sentencing. Unlike other crimes, theft sentences tend to resemble a scale or spectrum based on the amount of property or assets that were stolen. Thus, theft sentences can sometimes be reduced or even dropped depending on the amount of property that was stolen.
If after further analysis, it is revealed that the defendant actually took less than what was thought, the sentence may be affected in their favor. Or, if it turns out that the stole something that was of negligible or very little value, the charges may sometimes be dropped. This of course will vary according to the facts in each criminal trial.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Theft Penalties and Defenses?
Dealing with theft charges can sometimes be very challenging. It’s in your best interests to hire a qualified criminal lawyer if you need help or representation for a criminal case. Your attorney can provide you with detailed legal information for your case, and will be able to guide you through the process from start to finish.
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Last Modified: 11-30-2016 04:52 PM PST
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