The severity of the penalties for a theft charge depends upon the amount of loss the supposed victim sustained. Even the least serious theft crimes can mean jail time. If you’ve been charged with theft or shoplifting, it’s important to speak to a defense lawyer for help. If you reside in Washington, you can call Daryl Graves Law, PLLC at (253) 383-7777 and speak to a theft defense lawyer about your case. Your initial consultation is free, and you are never under any obligation to retain our lawyers.

Defining Theft

According to RCW 9A.56.020, theft is defined as any of the following three activities:

  • Wrongfully obtaining the property or services of another with the intent to deprive him or her of such property or services.
  • Obtaining control over the property or services “by color or aid of deception” with intent to deprive him or her of such property or services.
  • Appropriating lost or misdelivered property or services of another with intent to deprive him or her of such property or services.

Three Types of Theft Charges & the Respective Maximum Sentences

Washington statutes provide the following three categories of theft offenses.

  • Theft in the third degree — If the goods/services are worth less than $750, it’s considered theft in the third degree. This is considered a gross misdemeanor. Most shoplifting charges fall under this category. The maximum penalty for third-degree theft is one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
  • Theft in the second degree — If the goods/services are valued between $750 and $5,000, the offense is upgraded to theft of the second degree, a class C felony. This can mean five years’ imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.
  • Theft in the first degree — If the value of the goods/services totaled more than $5,000, it’s considered first-degree theft, a class B felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

Various Types of Theft Charges

The state of Washington provides specific rules for certain types of theft. A lawyer can review the details of your particular offense. Some of the theft offenses that have detailed rules and protocols include the following.

  • Theft of a motor vehicle
  • Theft of livestock
  • Theft of rental, leased, lease-purchased or loaned property
  • Theft of subscription television services
  • Theft of telecommunication services
  • Organized retail theft
  • Theft with the intent to resell
  • Theft of a firearm
  • Mail theft

Defending against Theft Charges

Because a theft conviction will mar your record permanently, hinder your future and could result in a prison sentence, it’s vital to retain an attorney to help defend your case.

Fortunately, there are several valid defenses that can be used in theft cases. In true innocence, we can try to collect evidence to support your innocence to present it to the court. We might fight the facts of the case to break apart the prosecutor’s arguments. In some cases, we can try to achieve what’s referred to as a Compromise of Misdemeanor to have your case dismissed. In other situations, a plea bargain may be more appropriate.

We encourage you to call our office today to consult one of our theft defense attorneys. We can discuss the facts surrounding your case and talk about how we might best approach it. During the consultation (which is free), you also will have the opportunity to ask us any questions about our firm or your charges, so you may want to jot down some questions prior to our meeting. We are here to give you the straightforward answers — and the legal advice — you need during this challenging time.

Contact Daryl Graves Law, PLLC today at 253-383-7777 to speak about your criminal defense case.