Any form of theft investigation, charge, or arrest can benefit from representation by a lawyer experienced in criminal law. Even though theft charges generally do not have a violence component, it is a crime of mistrust that can disqualify you from any type of employment opportunity where trust is an essential requirement. Once you have a theft conviction on your record, it can be used to enhance your punishment if you encounter any other type of trouble with the law.
If you or a loved one has been charged with theft in Thurston County, you should retain the services of an experienced Tumwater theft lawyer as soon as possible. A knowledgeable Washington State criminal attorney can help you determine the defenses that might be available and guide you through the process.
We are a criminal defense law firm in Thurston County that utilizes our unique experience and knowledge of the criminal defense legal system to help all those in need. An outstanding attorney is especially vital when facing criminal charges that could result in prison time and/or expensive fines. Our team is committed to providing excellent service to our clients, ensuring we listen to their case, their circumstances, and their needs before determining a proper legal defense on their behalf.Understanding the Different Types of Theft Charges in Thurston County
Theft is a broad term that covers several very specific crimes.
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.”
To put this statute in layman’s terms, the three categories for theft are theft by taking, theft by deception, and theft by receiving stolen property.
To give an example of each of the three theft types, let us set the scene. Bobby has invited Billy and Jon over to his house today to see his new set of baseball cards. Billy is jealous because Bobby has a Derek Jeter rookie card that he wants for himself.
Theft by taking is simply the taking of another person’s property with the intent to deprive them of said property. If Billy were to slip Bobby’s baseball card in his pocket while Bobby was in the bathroom, Billy would be guilty of theft by taking.
Theft by deception is the theft of another person’s property by use of deceitful means to deprive the person of the stolen property. This particular theft crime has the added notion of deception or trickery involved. Billy asks Bobby if he’s willing to trade his baseball card for an autographed baseball. Bobby agrees. Billy goes home and forges a signature on the baseball, and trades the ball for the baseball card. Billy is guilty of theft by deception because he misleads Bobby about the value of the baseball.
Theft by receiving stolen property occurs when a person receives property that he either knew or should have known was stolen property. This category of theft has its own charges under Washington State Statute- Possessing Stolen Property in the 1st Degree and Possessing Stolen Property in the 2nd Degree, and Possessing Stolen Property in the 3rd Degree. If Jon takes Bobby’s baseball card and offers to sell it to Billy for 20 dollars, Billy would be guilty of theft by receiving stolen property.
If you are facing charges for a misdemeanor or felony theft charge, it is critical that you contact a seasoned Tumwater criminal defense attorney. Our team can advise you of your legal rights and options, the nature of the charges being brought against you, and the defenses that may apply in your case.Penalties for Theft Charges in Tumwater
How you are charged 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. In less serious offenses, such as proven shoplifting from a retail store, you may be able to walk away without a conviction if you pay restitution and/or complete an educational program about theft crimes. In more serious crimes, such as where a large amount of money or property is alleged to be stolen, you may be facing the prospect of years behind bars in a state prison.
The general guidelines for sentencing are
- 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.
In addition, a lot of theft charges are accompanied by additional criminal charges. This matters because not only will the prosecutor in your theft case gain leverage if there are multiple charges against you, but you could also face significantly more prison time if you are convicted on more than one criminal charge. Of course, the total number of charges against you will depend on the circumstances of your case.
All theft charges will require an appearance in court. Felony trials are adjudicated at the Thurston County Superior Court, while misdemeanor offenses are usually adjudicated at the Thurston County District Court.
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor or felony theft crime, aside from any criminal penalties, you will be left with a permanent criminal record. A black mark on your record can be damaging to your future. For instance:
- A potential employer may not hire you based on a theft conviction.
- You may be ineligible for certain state professional licenses.
- Your criminal record may hamper your ability to rent an apartment when a landlord or leasing company runs a routine background check on you.
- Your reputation and social standing may suffer.
The best way to protect yourself or your loved one is to hire an experienced Tumwater theft crimes defense lawyer. Our team is standing by, ready to give you the help and legal backup you need.How a Tumwater Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You With Theft Charges
With the variability among theft crimes and cases involving stealing or fraudulent criminal activity, it is best to have a defense lawyer on your side who understands the unique components of different types of theft and ways to defend against these charges. Our highly skilled Tumwater theft attorneys possess an understanding of theft laws and defense that only comes from years of dedicated practice.
If you or anyone you know has been charged with a theft crime, it is essential that you contact an experienced Thurston County theft lawyer who can help defend the charges. Because every case is different, you should contact our team about the specific facts of your case to receive the proper legal advice and help you deserve. To that end, we offer a free initial case consultation. Contact us today so we can get started working on your behalf.