Theft Lawyers in Tacoma Providing Clients with a Dedicated and Thorough Criminal Defense
Washington law specifies theft crimes based on the value of the stolen property and other factors that might have figured into the theft, such as whether the property was forcibly stolen from an individual with the use of a deadly weapon or if the stolen property was a vehicle. By state law, theft crimes are considered property crimes and can be charged either as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the specifics at play.
Regardless of your innocence or any factors in your criminal case which you feel help your chances of beating the theft charge, it is important that you respect the seriousness of the situation you’ve found yourself in. If arrested and found guilty of theft charges, a person could face extensive jail time, costly fines, and lasting negative impacts on their future opportunities due to their new criminal record.
At the law offices of the South Sound Law Group, our attorneys have years of experience providing legal representation to those accused of a theft crime in and around Tacoma, WA. At our firm, you will speak with a theft attorney knowledgeable in all types of criminal charges that has a track record of helping clients like yourself against the might of the criminal justice system.
The sooner you begin building your criminal defense with an experienced theft attorney, the better your chances are of avoiding serious penalties like a long prison sentence. To start the process, schedule your free initial consultation with a lawyer at South Sound Law Group today.
What Counts as a Theft Crime According to Washington Law?
The crime of theft has many branching subcategories. It’s understandable if you’re not familiar with what makes the difference between a robbery and a burglary in Washington State. However, the manner in which the theft was committed can go a long way towards not only defining the crime but also deciding the penalties.
The main difference between robbery and burglary in Washington State is that robbery involves violence, coercion, force, or threat of violence in the taking of someone else’s property. Burglary crimes, on the other hand, do not take into consideration the accused’s hostility or use of a deadly weapon.
If a person enters a building with the criminal intent to steal, then they can be accused of the crime of burglary. If another person enters the same building with the same intentions but uses a deadly weapon to get what they want, then they have committed the crime of robbery.
In Pierce County, WA, there are typically four times as many burglary crimes as there are robbery crimes.
There are also white-collar crimes, where assets are stolen by methods of trickery (these days, white-collar crime is typically accomplished through the internet). Examples of white-collar crime include elder financial abuse, embezzlement, identity theft, money laundering, stealing a bank account number, stealing from a financial institution, and many examples of fraud.
What Are the Potential Penalties for a Theft Conviction in the State of Washington?
Depending on the perceived severity of the crime, theft charges can either result in a misdemeanor or a felony charge.
Third-degree theft is a gross misdemeanor and can result in a maximum penalty of up to a year behind bars and fines up to $5,000. In other states, this charge is sometimes known as petty theft.
Examples of third-degree theft include stealing personal property or cash worth less than $750, with no physical harm done or threatened in the act. Instances of shoplifting typically fall under theft charges of the third degree.
Second-degree theft refers to the stealing of any personal property or money that is worth more than $750 but less than $5,000. Second-degree theft is a Class C felony in Washington. A conviction for theft in the second degree can result in a maximum of five years of jail time and fines up to $10,000.
Examples of second-degree crimes of theft include stealing account information or illegal access to someone else’s financial assets through a device, credit card, or code.
First-degree theft is a Class B felony. Theft, in the first degree, is the illegal taking of any property or assets worth over $5,000. Theft of a firearm or motor vehicle, regardless of its value, also results in a first-degree theft charge. Theft in the first degree is a Class B felony that comes with it the risk of 10 years in jail and up to $20,000 in fines.
Examples of theft in the first degree include vehicular theft, stealing a gun or firearm, abducting and taking a search and rescue dog, white-collar crime dealing in large amounts of money, commercial burglary, and residential burglary.
In addition to the established periods of incarceration and financial fines, it is worth noting that having any type of theft crime on your record can have other negative impacts as well. It could make it more difficult to secure future employment opportunities, loans, education, and housing. It could even result in the loss of a person’s immigration status. Regardless of how severe your charge is, be it shoplifting or robbery carried out with the use of a gun, you must understand the consequences of a conviction.
Most misdemeanor and felony charges in Washington State closely follow criminal law sentencing guidelines. However, with a strong criminal defense presented by a theft attorney, your legal situation could be helped.
How Could an Attorney Help Defend Against Theft Charges?
Whether you’ve been charged with misdemeanors or something more serious like a Class C felony or a Class B felony, it is important to remember that you have legal rights. You have the right to a criminal defense attorney who can help to clear your name or lessen the sentencing in a trial.
The state will prosecute some property crimes very aggressively, such as violent robbery and residential burglary. But some distinctions can be made which could provide even those ‘caught red-handed’ with a means for arguing for lighter chargers. For example, while carjacking or vehicular theft is a Class B felony, the act of ‘joyriding’ wherein a person takes a car but has no intention of keeping it may receive kinder sentencing. Similarly, the manner in which a theft occurs plays into the sort of charges and penalties that someone might receive: the legal system takes the use of violence and a deadly weapon very seriously, whereas a theft charge with no victims who were put in harm’s way does not receive the same amount of condemnation.
Your attorneys can examine the facts of the case and see if there are any holes or mistakes made by law enforcement, which could result in evidence being inadmissible in court. Your defense team will also try to speak with witnesses and establish that you did not mean to commit a crime but that this is a big mistake as you thought you had the right to that which you’ve been accused of stealing. Or if the facts do not benefit your defense, then your legal team will explore a plea bargain in an attempt to see prison time reduced or even replaced with probation, mandated programs, and community service.
But above all else, you must understand that with this and every other legal issue pertaining to an accused crime, you are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. It is up to the lawyers for the prosecution to prove you committed a crime. Your attorney, on the other hand, only needs to establish reasonable doubt.
The attorneys of South Sound Law Group have been serving Pierce County and Tacoma, WA, for years in matters of criminal defense. If you, or a person you know, has been charged with robbery, burglary, or other crimes like identity theft, attorneys at our firm have the experience and the confidence to defend their case. Schedule your initial confidential consultation today.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Criminal Defense Lawyer at South Sound Law Group Today
A person facing theft charges needs to be aware of their potential risk of imprisonment and costly fines and the possible damage these charges can do to their futures, including limiting employment opportunities and making it more difficult to get a bank loan. That’s why it is so incredibly important that any person charged with a crime speak with an attorney who is experienced in providing a legal defense based on criminal cases in that state.
Every attorney at our firm is dedicated to providing clients with a thorough and respectful defense. We have represented cases regarding retail theft, home robbery, vehicular theft, possessing stolen property, and identity theft.
To speak with an attorney about your case, please contact our offices to schedule a free consultation at 253-383-3328.