Have you or someone you love been arrested and charged with theft in Pierce County?
First and foremost, it’s important to remember that in the eyes of the law, you are innocent until proven guilty.
You may believe that the evidence against you is overwhelming. You may think that you have no choice but to plead guilty to theft charges and accept your punishment. You may even wonder if a lawyer can help you.
Believe us when we say that an experienced Sumner theft attorney can make a big difference. Not only will our knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys stand by your side through every step of the process, but our team is also available to answer any questions you may have about theft charges, such as
- What is the first step I should take after getting charged with theft in Pierce County?
- Can a Sumner criminal defense attorney help with theft charges if I’m guilty of the crime?
- What are the penalties I face if convicted of a theft charge in Sumner?
- What are the different types of theft charges in Washington State?
If you are dealing with any type of criminal matter, including theft, you will have a distinct advantage if you are familiar with the Washington state laws regarding your criminal charge. Understanding what to expect can help prepare you to do whatever you can to preserve your rights and interests when they are at risk.
In light of this, our Sumner criminal defense attorneys have designed this website to offer a basic outline of criminal theft charges in Washington state. Of course, every case is different and your proceedings may vary accordingly. We encourage you to read over the provided material and then contact our firm for a case consultation.Understanding Pierce County Theft Laws
Theft is a very broad descriptor that covers a wide variety of crimes in which property, goods, or services were unlawfully removed from the rightful owner's possession, and is actually considered to be one of the most common crimes committed in Washington State.
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.”
The most common theft crimes in the state of Washington include:
- Motor vehicle theft
- Credit card theft
- Identity theft
Some of the specific theft charges that our team of knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys has handled include-
Theft in the 1st Degree- 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. Theft in the 1st degree is charged as a felony, and carries the most severe punishments if convicted.
Theft in the 2nd Degree- 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. Theft in the 2nd degree is also charged as a felony in Washington state.
Theft in the 3rd Degree- 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. Considered the least serious of the theft charges, theft in the 3rd degree is a gross misdemeanor crime and carries less severe punishments than Theft 1 or 2.
Possession of Stolen Property in the 1st Degree- This charge is applied when the accused holds stolen property or goods that exceed $5000 in value and is charged as a Class B felony.
Possession of Stolen Property in the 2nd Degree- This charge is applied when the accused holds stolen property or goods that value between $750-$5000, public records, or access devices, and is charged as a Class C felony.
Possession of Stolen Property in the 3rd Degree- This charge is applied when the accused holds stolen property or goods worth less than $750, and like theft in the 3rd degree, is charged as a gross misdemeanor.
If you have been arrested and charged with a theft crime, you will most likely need to appear in court. All felony theft cases are the purview of the Pierce County Superior Court, located in Tacoma. Any misdemeanor theft charges occurring in Sumner will go to trial at the Pierce County District Court, also located in downtown Tacoma.Penalties for Theft Convictions in Sumner
As you have undoubtedly already considered, if you are convicted of the crime of theft, it may have consequences in every area of your life and into the distant future.
The penalties for theft crimes vary based on the value of the property stolen, which type of theft crime is committed, and your previous criminal history. Listed below are the maximum penalties for theft in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree, which are three of the most common theft crimes charged in Pierce County.
- First-degree theft is a Class B felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $50,000.
- Second-degree theft is a Class C felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and up to $10,000.
- Third-degree theft is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine up to $5,000.
In addition to those punishments listed above, there are other consequences you need to consider if you’re facing a theft conviction in Pierce County. Since employers and creditors often conduct background checks, any allegation of theft can have serious repercussions. There are many defenses that you can raise, but these require a skilled Sumner criminal defense attorney familiar with Washington state theft laws.How a Sumner Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You With Theft Charges
If you have been arrested and charged with theft in Sumner, you might be wondering if you need to hire a lawyer. If you feel confident that you can prove your innocence in court, you might be tempted to represent yourself. The fact is, even lawyers very rarely represent themselves. This is because it is very difficult to do so successfully.
It can be difficult to make the right decisions when you don’t understand the potential repercussions. An experienced Sumner theft attorney can help you make the choices that will offer the best chances for a successful outcome.