Bonney Lake Theft
Theft is one of the most commonly committed crimes in Pierce County. But just because it’s common doesn’t mean that you can afford to shrug off a theft charge like it’s not important.
Theft crimes carry a wide range of serious penalties, including heavy fines, restitution, and serious jail time, so it’s in your best interest to fight these charges with the help of an experienced Bonney Lake criminal defense lawyer.
Theft laws can be confusing. Even if you know what crime you are being charged with, you may not fully understand the penalties, degree of the crime, or your rights and options. You may have questions, such as
- Are theft, burglary, and robbery all the same charges in Pierce County?
- Will I go to jail if I’m convicted of theft in Bonney Lake?
- Do I need a lawyer to fight a shoplifting charge in Pierce County?
- Can I be charged with theft in Bonney Lake if I bought something I know was stolen on Craigslist?
If you need answers to these questions or any others pertaining to theft charges in Bonney Lake, we encourage you to contact our Pierce County criminal defense attorneys. During your free case consultation, we will evaluate your case at no charge, look at the evidence, determine your best defense, and look for mitigating issues such as police misconduct, other suppression issues, and even possible affirmative defenses. Contact our firm today so that we can start forming an aggressive defense for your charges.Pierce County Theft Laws Explained by a Bonney Lake Criminal Defense Attorney
Washington State Statute RCW 9A.56.020 lays out three specific definitions for the crime of theft
“(a) To wrongfully obtain or exert unauthorized control over the property or services of another or the value thereof, with intent to deprive him or her of such property or services; or
(b) By color or aid of deception to obtain control over the property or services of another or the value thereof, with intent to deprive him or her of such property or services; or
(c) To appropriate lost or misdelivered property or services of another, or the value thereof, with intent to deprive him or her of such property or services.”
Let’s break down each section so that it’s more understandable.
Section A is often referred to as “theft by unlawful acquisition”, or simply “theft by taking.” As the name implies, this is when a person unlawfully takes or exercises unlawful control of another’s property in order to deprive the rightful owner of that property. If you asked somebody on the street what the definition for the word “theft” is, this is the crime that most people would answer with.
Section B is often referred to as “theft by deception.” One commits this crime when they intentionally obtain or withhold property of another by deception. This includes not correcting a mistake that results in theft. Phishing, which is the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers, is an example of theft by deception.
Section C is also known as “theft of lost/mislaid property,” or “theft of stolen goods.” In crime dramas on television you might hear this section of the law referred to as “possession of stolen property.” A person is guilty of this crime if they knowingly purchase, obtain, receive, or possess any property knowing (or should know) that property was stolen with the intent of depriving the owner of the property.
You may notice that nowhere in the above definition or explanations are the terms robbery or burglary included. Although many people believe that theft, robbery, and burglary are all basically the same crime, in the eyes of the Washington state government, theft, robbery, and burglary are all distinct, separate crimes.Penalties for a Theft Conviction in Bonney Lake
A person may be found guilty of theft if they are proven, by a prosecutor in a court of law, to have taken possession of or exercised unlawful control over another person’s property without consent and with the intent to permanently deprive the rightful owner of access to the property.
If convicted of a theft charge in Pierce County, the severity of your punishment will depend on the nature of the crime, the value of what was stolen, and any aggravating factors involved such as the use of force or weapons.
The guidelines for sentencing theft crimes in Washington state are listed below.
- First-degree theft is a Class B felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $50,000. This charge is applied when the stolen property or cash is valued at or above $5,000, or the theft includes a firearm or motor vehicle.
- Second-degree theft is a Class C felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and up to $10,000. This charge is applied when the stolen property or cash is valued from $750 to $5,000, or when the stolen item is an account access device like a key-card or access code.
- Third-degree theft is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine up to $5,000. This charge is applied when the stolen property or cash is valued below $750. Most shoplifting crimes, also known as retail theft, are charged as Theft in the 3rd degree.
All of the factors that determine the severity of the charges and the punishments for conviction will also determine which court you will need to appear in if your theft charge goes to trial. All gross misdemeanor theft charges will be adjudicated at the Pierce County District Court, and all felony theft charges will be adjudicated at the Pierce County Superior Court. Both courtrooms are located in downtown Tacoma.
It’s important to note that criminal penalties are not the only consequences you could face if convicted of a theft charge in Pierce County. In addition to criminal theft charges, the victim may pursue a civil case against you to recover compensation for his or her lost property. Additionally, a theft conviction may prevent you from finding employment, especially if you are seeking a job that handles any kind of valuable objects or cash.How a Bonney Lake Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help With Theft Charges
Whether your theft charge is a misdemeanor or felony, the consequences can be life-altering. Moreover, if your case is handled without proper care or adequate attention, theft charges in Pierce County can be extremely difficult to put behind you as a conviction can have long-term employment consequences. That’s why having a Bonney Lake criminal defense attorney with extensive theft experience on your side is an investment in your future, an investment you can’t afford to overlook.