Many attorneys receive questions about property crime and property crime defenses. Generally speaking, property crime is any crime involving the theft or destruction of property that belongs to another person. Property crimes are usually misdemeanor crimes, which result in criminal fines and a short jail sentence.
However, damage or theft or more valuable property can result in felony charges. Felony charges may also result from property crimes that are committed with the use of a deadly weapon.
What are Some Examples of Property Crimes?
Property crime usually refers to theft of property, but it can also include other crimes such as:
- Criminal damage to property
- Defacement of statues and other works of art
- Breaking and entering
Property crimes may often occur in relation to other crimes. For instance, many assault and battery cases involve property that was damaged in an altercation or fight.
What are Some Property Crime Defenses?
Property crimes defenses may be available depending on the nature of the case and the circumstances surrounding the charges. Some common property crime defenses may include:
- Necessity – It can sometimes be argued that the destruction of property is necessary under certain emergency situations. For instance, a person might need to break a window as they are escaping from a fire or other danger.
- Coercion – It may be a defense if the defendant was forced to steal or damage property under the threat of harm, injury, or death.
- Mistake – for most theft crimes, you need criminal intent in order to be found guilty. Thus, if took an item by mistake because you thought it was yours, it may be a possible defense.
Property crime defenses will of course depend on the facts of each case, as well as the laws in that particular state.
Should I Hire an Attorney for Assistance with Property Crime Defenses?
Property crime defenses often require an intricate knowledge of criminal laws. You may need to hire a criminal defense lawyer for assistance with your claim if you’re facing charges. Your attorney will be able to represent you in court, and can guide you throughout the legal process. Also, your lawyer will be able to help determine the legal defenses that can apply to your situation.