If you have been charged with a theft crime such as larceny, grand theft, grand theft auto, shoplifting, embezzlement, or robbery, you are likely worried about what will happen next and what you can do to best protect yourself. Even if you have not been formally charged with the crime, but expect that you will be facing charges, you may be looking for more information about what to do. The following frequently asked questions may help as you prepare for your defense.
- What is a theft crime? As stated above, theft crimes can be widely varied and include the following, which may be called different things, depending on your state’s law:
- Embezzlement: Theft of money that was entrusted to you, typically the money of your employer.
- Grand theft: Theft of property over a certain value. Depending on your state’s law, the amount may vary but typically grand theft involves stealing property valued over $500.
- Grand theft auto: Theft of a motor vehicle.
- Larceny: Stealing someone else’s property, often treated the same as theft.
- Robbery: Theft or property by force or by threatening force. This includes the very serious crime of armed robbery.
- Shoplifting: Theft of property by taking it from a store without paying.
Basically, a theft crime occurs any time someone takes property from someone else without their permission and with the intent of permanently keeping the stolen property away from its rightful owner.
- What kind of penalties could I face if I am convicted of a theft crime? The penalties that you may face for theft crimes depend on three main factors: (1) the law of the state where you committed the crime, (2) the type of property that you stole, and (3) the way in which you stole it.
- The law of your state. Generally speaking, crimes are codified. This means that crimes are defined by laws passed by your state’s legislature. Depending on what kind of laws your state has passed, they may set minimum sentencing requirements or sentencing suggestions for judges and juries to follow when assessing theft crimes.
- The type of property stolen: Some theft crimes involving property over a certain value or of a certain type, such as grand theft and grand theft auto, may be considered felonies in your state. If you are convicted of a felony, you will face serious penalties, including fines and jail time. Felony convictions can deprive you of your right to vote and also your ability to qualify for housing assistance from the government
- The way the property was stolen. If the property was stolen by force or a threat of force in the crime commonly called “robbery,” the theft may also be considered a felony. As with grand theft and grand theft auto, this means that you could be facing a lengthy jail sentence on top of fines.
During sentencing, judges and juries may consider other factors such whether you have previous convictions for theft or other crimes, and the facts and circumstances of your case. These considerations may increase or decrease your ultimate sentence.
- What is the first step I should take to prepare to defend against the case against me? The first step you should take after being charged with any crime, or if you think that you may face criminal charges for your actions in the future, is to consult with qualified and experienced criminal defense lawyers Rockville, MD residents rely on. Specifically, you should look to consult with and hire an attorney to represent you who has represented criminal defendants in theft crimes similar to your own. A competent criminal defense attorney will be able to guide you through the life of your case, offering advice, advocating for your case, and conducting any negotiations necessary regarding the charges against you. There is no replacement for competent legal counsel when you have been charged with a crime.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at The Law Office of Daniel J. Wright for their insight into criminal defense and theft crimes.