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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

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Theft Charges: Here’s Why You Need an Aggressive Criminal Defense Attorney

By Spodek Law Group | October 20, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 21, 2023)

Last Updated on: 21st October 2023, 08:26 am


Theft Charges: Here’s Why You Need an Aggressive Criminal Defense Attorney

Being accused of theft can be scary. The penalties are harsh, and a conviction can ruin your life. That’s why if you’re facing theft charges, you need an aggressive criminal defense attorney on your side.

I’m going to walk you through exactly what theft charges are, why they’re so serious, and how a good lawyer can help. I’ll use plain language a high schooler can understand, and I’ll try to keep it conversational and empathetic, just like we’re having a chat over coffee.

What are theft charges?

Theft is when you take someone else’s property without permission, aka “stealing.” There are lots of laws about theft, but these are some common examples of charges:

  • Petty theft – Stealing something worth less than $500
  • Grand theft – Stealing something worth more than $500
  • Burglary – Illegally entering a building to steal
  • Robbery – Using force or threats to steal from a person
  • Shoplifting – Stealing goods from a store

So if you’re accused of any of those, you could face theft charges. The details really matter though – the exact circumstances, evidence, and dollar amounts make a huge difference.

Why are theft charges so serious?

Even if it seems like a small mistake, theft charges can totally upend your life:

  • Jail time – Petty theft can mean up to 1 year in jail. Grand theft or burglary can mean years in prison.
  • Fines – You may have to pay thousands in fines, plus repay what you stole.
  • Criminal record – Theft crimes go on your permanent criminal record.
  • Lost opportunities – Jobs, schools, housing, and more may turn you down if you have a record.
  • Probation – You might have to check in with a probation officer and follow strict rules.

As you can see, the penalties are no joke. Theft charges shouldn’t be taken lightly.

How can a criminal defense attorney help?

When you’re facing criminal charges, you need someone who will fight aggressively on your behalf. A criminal defense lawyer can:

  • Investigate the facts – They’ll interview witnesses, gather evidence, and look for holes in the prosecutor’s case.
  • Negotiate with the prosecutor – They may be able to get charges reduced or even dismissed through plea bargains.
  • File motions – They can challenge improper police procedures, inadmissible evidence, and other issues.
  • Take your case to trial – If a plea deal can’t be reached, they can defend you in court.
  • Advocate for you – They’ll argue for the lightest sentence possible if you’re convicted.

A good defense lawyer knows how to stand up to prosecutors and hold them accountable. They understand complex laws and know how to apply them to your unique situation.

How do theft laws and defenses work?

There are a bunch of laws around theft charges. Your lawyer will need to dig into the details to build the best defense. Here are some examples:

Shoplifting laws

Shoplifting laws vary by state. For example, in California petty theft under $950 is a misdemeanor. But in Texas it’s a misdemeanor under $100, and a felony above $750! So the state you’re charged in makes a huge difference.

There are also laws about merchant’s rights. Like merchants can ask to inspect your bags when leaving a store. And they can detain you if they suspect shoplifting. But they can’t use unreasonable force or detention methods .

Receipt laws

In some states, having a receipt can be a solid defense against retail theft charges. There are laws about merchants having to prove items weren’t purchased. Your lawyer could argue you paid if you have a receipt, even if it doesn’t match the exact items .

Mistake of fact

If you had a reasonable belief you had permission to take an item, your lawyer can use a “mistake of fact” defense. Like if a store clerk said you could take something, even if they were wrong . This can show you didn’t have criminal intent.

False accusations

Sometimes theft allegations are false or mistaken. Your lawyer will investigate if witnesses misidentified you, evidence was mishandled, or the alleged victim lied. Proving your innocence is the ultimate defense!

How can a lawyer negotiate with prosecutors?

Prosecutors have tons of power in deciding how to charge and punish you. A good lawyer knows how to strategically negotiate with them. Here are some tactics they use:

  • Highlight weaknesses – If the evidence or witness accounts are shaky, they’ll leverage that.
  • Offer restitution – Repaying what was stolen can show good faith and responsibility.
  • Bring up life circumstances – Health issues, family obligations, employment, and more may garner sympathy.
  • Suggest community service – Volunteering looks better than jail time.
  • Request diversion programs – These may include counseling or education to avoid a conviction.

Through back-and-forth talks, a lawyer aims to get charges dropped or reduced. Even lowering a felony to a misdemeanor is a win. The goal is avoiding high fines, jail time, and a permanent record.

What’s the bottom line?

Being accused of theft is scary. The potential penalties can ruin your education, job, housing, and future. So if you’re facing charges, call an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. An aggressive lawyer can thoroughly investigate your case, fight to get charges dropped or reduced, and negotiate with prosecutors on your behalf. With the right legal defense, you can move forward with your life.

I hope this plain-language overview helped explain how theft charges work and why a good lawyer is so important. The legal system can be confusing, but knowledge is power. So stay strong, know your rights, and let a skilled attorney handle the details. It’ll be ok!


FindLaw – Shoplifting Laws and Penalties

CriminalDefenseLawyer.com – Petty Theft Penalties and Defense

Nolo – Mistake of Fact Legal Defense

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