There are several different types of offenses that fall under the umbrella of theft crimes, and depending on the amount of property alleged to have been stolen, the charge can be filed as an infraction, misdemeanor, or a felony. If you are charged with theft, the prosecutor will have to prove that you took property belonging to someone else, and at the time you took the property, you had the intent to permanently deprive the owner of its value.
Depending on the allegation, sometimes a defendant will have a defense based on their lack of intent, and in other circumstances, their defense will be a lack of evidence that they in fact took the item they are accused of taking. In many cases, theft charges are brought against a defendant based on insufficient evidence in the hopes that the charge alone will intimidate the defendant into pleading guilty without putting up a fight.
In cases where the evidence of guilt may be weak or the defendant has no record, a defense attorney may be able to plea bargain a misdemeanor to an infraction. In cases where there isn’t a dispute about the facts, a defense attorney may still be able to get the charge dismissed by getting the victim to agree to a “civil compromise”.
Theft convictions can negatively affect employment opportunities, immigration status, and the ability to travel.
If you are charged with theft, even if you think the evidence is overwhelming and you have no defense, don’t plead guilty without consulting with an attorney. A skilled attorney can often find a way to minimize the damage of a conviction or keep the conviction off your record altogether. Don’t pass up the opportunity for a consultation. Mr. Ganschow will tell you your options in a straightforward way free of charge.