Defending Theft Charges

Theft, also sometimes called larceny, is a crime that is committed by attempting to take another person’s property. The laws apply to property that can be physically taken so therefore it does not include land, which is covered by other laws. Theft crimes typically fall into two main categories including petty theft and grand theft. In addition to simple theft, there are two other types of crimes that fall under this category including embezzlement and fraud. In order to be convicted of theft it generally must be proven that there was intent to permanently deprive the owner of his property. Theft may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the offense. Any type of theft charges should be considered serious and it is important to seek legal help as soon as possible. Often, the sooner your attorney becomes involved in your case, the better your chances are for a more favorable outcome.

Grand Theft and Petty Theft

Petty theft is not as serious a crime as grand theft and therefore the penalties, if convicted, aren’t as severe. Grand theft is charged when some conditions are met including such things as:

  • Property value
  • Property taken by force or fear
  • Type of property taken

Grand theft is considered a first degree theft. If the theft doesn’t qualify for grand theft it will usually be charged as a petty theft – a second degree theft. Generally, auto theft is considered a grand theft (grand theft auto). However, there are circumstances where taking a vehicle isn’t necessarily grand theft auto. One example of this would be stealing a vehicle for the purpose of joy riding. In a case such as this the person who took the vehicle did not intend to keep it or to profit from taking it.

Defending Theft Charges

An experienced criminal defense attorney will review your situation and determine whether the charges are accurate. Keep in mind that the prosecutor will need to have evidence to prove theft. If there isn’t adequate evidence the state may end up reducing your charges or dropping your case, however, you’ll usually need an attorney to assist in your defense. Many possible defense strategies are possible – each case is different and requires individual review to determine the best way to proceed. If you have a prior theft conviction a subsequent charge may be treated as a first degree theft, regardless of whether it meets the other conditions. A conviction of theft charges comes with diverse penalties based on many variables. Penalties may include fines, restitution, jail confinement, and probation. Petty theft convictions often don’t include jail time, while grand theft convictions may. You will want to speak to an attorney as soon as possible to assist you throughout the process to a favorable conclusion.