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What are Theft Offenses?

What are Theft Offenses?

Types of Theft Charges

Most property crimes are theft-related. There are many kinds of theft offenses and how they are charged and the penalties for committing them can vary widely. If you are charged with a theft, immediately contact a theft attorney to ensure your rights are protected. Examples of theft offenses include:

  • Credit card fraud
  • Shoplifting
  • Embezzlement
  • Grand theft
  • Petty theft
  • Fraud
  • Internet fraud
  • Identity fraud
  • Mail fraud
  • Bank fraud
  • Receipt of stolen property
  • Healthcare fraud
  • Burglary
  • Robbery
  • Theft of services
  • Bad checks

Most theft offenses can be charged as either a misdemeanor or as a felony depending on the value of the item taken, although some offenses are only felonies because of the nature of the offense. This includes robbery since it is a violent crime, and identity theft because of the gravity of the harm and the significant inconvenience it can cause to its victims. A skilled theft defense attorney can often offer convincing arguments for reducing some felony charges to misdemeanors.

Here are some common examples of theft:

Petty Theft

An example of petty theft is shoplifting. If the item’s value is under a certain amount, usually around $50, it may be considered an infraction, rather than a crime, and be subject to a fine only. It is a misdemeanor if the value is greater, typically up to less than $1,000. Shoplifting something of greater value is usually considered theft.

 Petty theft can also be committed by changing the price tag on an item.

Grand or Aggravated Theft

If the property taken is over a certain amount, then either a felony or misdemeanor may be charged. It generally depends on the property’s value and if the offender has a prior offense. If a firearm or dangerous weapon was used to steal the item, then the sentence is generally enhanced to more than one year in prison to several years and can be charged as a robbery. An aggravated or serious theft offense requires the expertise and knowledge of an aggravated theft lawyer or grand theft attorney.

Grand Theft Auto

Depending on the jurisdiction, there may be a separate offense of auto theft, which may be only a misdemeanor offense, or it will have different degrees of grand theft auto. If you steal a vehicle for a joyride, meaning it was only temporary and leave it in good condition, you may only be charged with a lesser degree or misdemeanor, unless you have a prior criminal record.

Otherwise, you could be facing a felony, especially if the vehicle was stripped for parts. Felony sentences are typically more than one year for this offense and may entail 2-3 years in state prison. A grand theft auto attorney is best suited to defending you in cases like these.

Credit Card Fraud

Credit cards can be forged, but typically an offender will steal the numbers by internet theft or the card itself is used.

Some offenders add a magnetic strip to a card to increase its limit; or by skimming, which is the use of a device that reads the magnetic strip containing information needed to purchase goods illegally. Employees at restaurants or retail stores have been able to copy a credit card number off of sales receipts.

Misrepresenting yourself or giving false information to procure a credit card is also a crime and may be charged as a felony.

The severity of the sentence depends on the value of the illegally obtained item, although most offenses are considered felonies with jail sentences of at least one year to up to 10 years if a significant amount of property is stolen.

Credit card fraud can involve complex issues and facts. Retaining a credit card fraud attorney who has experience in similar cases can often result in reduced sentences, alternative sentences, or just probation.

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