Theft is one of the most commonly occurring crimes in the United States. Many times, those suspected of committing a theft offense are able to have their charges completely dropped – especially if it’s their first time being arrested and if they have a top criminal defense lawyer vying for their rights. However, there are many myths about theft crimes.

Many people only associate this offense with more minor incidents, such as stealing a sweater from a department store or taking a few bucks from a friend’s wallet when they aren’t looking. In reality, theft is one of the most complicated crimes and charges can be imposed in varying degrees, from misdemeanor charges to felony charges. And, if those accused of such an offense aren’t careful, they can end up behind bars for a very long time.

Below is an in-depth look at theft crimes and the best options for suspects.

 

Understanding theft

Theft is a pretty broad word. Not many are aware that theft is basically a general descriptor for crimes that involve the unlawful taking of another person’s property without their permission. However, depending on the circumstances surrounding each particular incident, the value of the property stolen, and whether or not any force or threat of violence was used, a suspect may be looking at paying fines or spending years in jail.

For example, burglary and larceny are both considered to be theft crimes. Larceny is the crime most people think about when they hear the word theft. Larceny is the unlawful taking of another’s property without the intention of returning it. Burglary, on the other hand, is usually associated with breaking and entering another person’s property with the intent to commit theft. However, an individual may still be charged with burglary even if nothing was taken. Intent is a very powerful tool prosecutors use when in court.

 

What should someone accused of theft do?

Unfortunately, it’s easy to accuse someone of stealing something – or of attempting to steal something. Many people are wrongfully arrested and charged with a theft crime on a daily basis. If the crime is considered “petty” then minimal penalties may be imposed, but the greater the property value, the higher the degree of the offense and the penalties. Because theft crimes carry a lot of ambiguity, it is in every suspect’s best interest to retain legal counsel with an experienced criminal defense attorney.