Theft charges are serious. Being branded as a thief will impact not just your present but also your future. With modern-day technology making accessibility to databases easy, all employers can discovery your history, and a theft conviction can prevent you from getting the job you want.
There are three different degrees of theft, which differentiate the seriousness of the offenses. Whether you are facing theft 1°, 2°, 3°, or one of the several specific theft charges, it is vital that you contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible to help protect your record.
Theft 3° is when the objects allegedly taken have a value of $750 or less. This charge is a gross misdemeanor, which means the maximum penalty is 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. This is typically the charge you face when caught shoplifting (retail theft). If facing a shoplifting charge, you also normally face a second case stemming from the allegation. State statutes permit stores to sue you to recover the losses they sustained from your actions. They are permitted to seek money above the value of the items allegedly stolen. They can sue even if they get their items back! Normally, you will first receive a civil demand letter in the mail offering to settle the civil case if you pay the requested amount. It is important that you understand this would only settle the civil case. This does not settle the criminal case. On occasion, an experienced attorney may be able to work out a resolution with the victim during the civil case, which can also resolve the criminal case. This is why it's important to contact an attorney as soon as possible to investigate this option for you.
Theft 2° is a Class C felony, which means the maximum penalty is 5 years in jail and a $10,000 fine. This is typically charged when the value of the items stolen is above $750 but less than $5,000. Theft 1° is a Class B felony, which means the maximum penalty is 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. Theft 1° is normally charged when the value of the items stolen is in excess of $5,000.
Certain stolen items also have their own statues and penalties not dependent on their value. For example, motor vehicle theft is a felony. If the car is stolen in order to be sold or for pieces of it to be sold, then it is a Class B felony. If you were simply joy riding in it, it would be a Class C felony. Theft of a firearm is a Class B felony, no matter what the value of the gun is.
At the Law Offices of Jason S. Newcombe, we understand that theft charges can be frightening and stressful. We're here to help you navigate the justice system, protect your rights, and fight for the best possible outcome in your case. Call us today for a free consultation with one of our skilled Washington criminal defense lawyers.