I’ve been charged with stealing, what will happen?
If you are being charged with theft in New York City, Westchester or Long Island you need an attorney with the experience of a former prosecutor fighting for your best interests. Whether it is a petty larceny from a convenience store or grand larceny of a rare sports car, a theft conviction can tarnish your reputation, your record and permanently alter your way of life.
- One of the best examples of this is the employment context. We all know how tough it is to find employment these days and being charged with a theft crime can follow you around for years. Employers routinely run background checks on potential employees and a theft conviction will do major damage to your prospects. Let’s face it, nobody wants to hire a thief, and even if you were wrongly convicted it likely won’t matter to your future employer. It’s better to prevent the conviction in the first place than try to repair the damage afterward.
If you did not have a qualified attorney representing you and you’ve already been convicted of a theft crime an experienced criminal attorney may be able to expunge your record and have the conviction removed.
How serious can theft charges be?
While every case is different, the specific charges you may face for theft depend upon the monetary value of the goods that were stolen at the time of the theft. There are two types of charges, grand larceny and petit larceny (also known as petty larceny).
- Petit larceny is a misdemeanor whereas grand larceny of any degree is a felony.
If the value of the stolen goods is less than 1,000 dollars, the offense is considered petit larceny and will be considered a misdemeanor rather than a felony. Misdemeanors carry much more lenient penalties than felony grand larceny, but the potential charges vary widely and you need an attorney who is experienced at handling all manner of theft crimes, from petty to serious.
- Grand larceny of the first degree is committed when one million dollars or more worth of goods is stolen, and it is punishable by up to twenty-five years in prison. There are also fines and court fees that go along with a guilty verdict. This is a Class B felony, which is a very serious charge.
- Second degree larceny requires that the property stolen has a value in excess of $50,000.00. Second degree larceny is a Class C felony punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.
- Third degree larceny requires that the property stolen has a value in excess of $3,000.00. It is a Class D felony, and you can receive a maximum sentence of seven years in prison if found guilty.
- Fourth degree larceny requires that the item stolen has a value of greater than $1,000.00. It may also involve the theft of public records, credit or debit cards, or firearms. Fourth degree larceny is the smallest felony charge associated with theft, it is a Class E felony and is punishable by up to four years in prison.
Taking the property of another can result in civil lawsuit liability in addition to any criminal penalties. Depending on the nature of the property you took, you may be sued by the owner of the property for the tort of conversion or trespass to property. You may also be subject to criminal restitution and/or punitive damages depending on how your case develops. When it comes to theft allegations you need an attorney who knows how to handle both criminal prosecutions and civil liability to protect your rights and reputation.
What types of theft offenses might I be guilty of?
Theft crimes are serious offenses and include robbery, burglary, shoplifting, motor vehicle theft, embezzlement, credit card theft, identity theft and possession of stolen property. Some of the crimes that fall into these categories are:
- Robbery: the taking of the property of another through the use of force or the threat of force or violence.
- Larceny: this is the taking and carrying away of the personal property of another person or business with the intent to permanently deprive the other party of the property. See above for a more detailed breakdown of larceny crimes.
- Burglary: this crime generally requires that you broke into the property of another person and had the intent to commit a felony after breaking in. This crime does not necessarily entail the taking of somebody else’s property, but generally theft of property is the intended crime that accompanies breaking and entering into the property of another person. It is easy for the prosecution to presume that if you broke into another person’s property, you likely had the intent to steal something.
- Embezzlement: the intent to steal the property of another person when you otherwise had lawful access to and/or control over the property. For example: you intended to wrongfully take cash out of your assigned cash register at work. The money was trusted to you and you were in control of it, but you went beyond the scope of that control and misappropriated the money for yourself.
- Possession of Stolen Property: Even if you did not take the property in question, if you are knowingly in possession of property that has been stolen, you may be found criminally liable for a theft crime
- Identity Theft: You may be guilty of identity theft if you knowingly and with intent to defraud assume the identity of another person by presenting yourself as that other person, or by acting as that other person or by using personal identifying information of the other person to obtain goods, money or services. The punishment for this crime ranges from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class D felony. The crime can be “aggravated” if the person whose identity was stolen was a military member and more than $500.00 dollars in goods, services or money was taken.
What kinds of defenses will my attorney raise?
Whether you are facing petty larceny charges or grand larceny charges, you need a knowledgeable and experienced attorney that will protect your rights and help to eliminate your sentence or at least reduce it significantly. After reviewing your case, your attorney will formulate the most appropriate defense for your particular situation. Some potential defenses include, but are not limited to:
- Consent: that you had permission to take the property in question or were privileged to have it in your possession even though it did not technically belong to you.
- Mistake: you took a piece of property mistakenly believing that it belonged to you. This implies that you did not have the intent to take somebody else’s property because you honestly thought that the item belonged to you.
- Return of stolen property: simply giving back property that was taken is not enough to relieve you of criminal liability for theft. The instant the property is wrongfully taken it has been stolen. However, returning the property intact may be a viable way to convince a prosecutor to be more lenient.
- Intoxication: generally intoxication is not a defense in and of itself unless it is used to negate an element of the crime being charged. For example, if you were too drunk to form the necessary intent your lawyer may be able to argue that you could not have formed the intent to commit the crime and are therefore not guilty.
No attorney can guarantee a particular outcome, but an experienced criminal attorney will try to mitigate the charges to the greatest degree possible. Call The Law Offices of George Vomvolakis today for a free case consultation!