General Theft Offenses
The offense of theft can run from a class C misdemeanor (the equivalent of a traffic ticket) all the way up to a first degree felony that carries 5 to 99 to life in prison. There are too many types of theft cases to try to explain here. There are white collar crimes, theft of service, theft against the elderly, theft by check, organized retain theft, shoplifting, and so on.
If someone is intentionally or recklessly hurt in the process of committing theft the offense can turn into robbery.
If you or someone you know is charged with this type of crime, contact us for a free phone consultation. Sometimes in theft cases, we can work out something with the victim where he may be willing to not pursue the charge if he gets his money or property returned.
It is important to talk an attorney even if you are charged with a misdemeanor theft. Although misdemeanor offenses are composed of many types of theft cases, the most important thing to remember is to avoid a conviction. Once convicted of theft, it stays on your record forever. It does not drop off after a time period. Thus, it can hurt and haunt you from now on. If you are not a United States citizen, it may get you deported because it is considered a “crime involving moral turpitude”.
Whenever my firm is representing someone on a theft charge, we attempt to do whatever we can to get the case dismissed or get an outcome that will allow the case to be sealed or expunged at a later date. This could involve seeing a weakness in the case and getting it dismissed, getting a type of probation that allows it to be sealed at a later date, getting the defendant in a pretrial diversion program that would allow expunging at a later date, or other options that avoid a conviction. If the case is weak, a trial may be in order, however, a trial is not recommended unless there is a high degree of confidence that a not guilty can be obtained, else, a conviction would occur and stay on the record from here on.
Please note that the law changed in September 2015 that allows certain misdemeanor cases such as shoplifting and possession of Marijuana to be sealed even if a conviction was the outcome on a case if the person has never been in trouble before; see the section on sealing and expunging records in this website or call us at 1-800-630-5985 or text us at 972-814-7318 to setup a free phone consultation to discuss.
The caveats mentioned above apply to felony theft. There are several additional points to make. Some times in felony theft cases there is a lot of money that has been stolen one way or the other. Maybe someone took money up front for a job they were to do but had no intention of doing the job. Maybe $5000 down and the rest to be paid later. The person takes the money and is not seen again. When he is caught, if he can come up with the $5000, the victim may be inclined to not pursue or at least agree to letting the defendant off easier than he otherwise would have. The bottom line is that money usually talks in felony theft cases.
A point to remember on felony cases, not only just theft, is that if a person receives deferred adjudication probation, the case may be sealed at a later date. However, the defendant would have to wait five years after he completes the probation. So if put on probation for 5 years, it would be ten years before the record can be sealed. For this reason, we try to get the case reduced to a misdemeanor, so the defendant can petition the court to seal the record immediately upon completing probation.
If the case looks very weak and there is a high degree of confidence that we would prevail at trial, we would probably suggest going to trial, however, the final decision is always the client’s after being advised on the various available options.