If you are caught stealing in the United States, it is important to know what type of charge you are facing and how much of a penalty you can expect. There are several different types of theft offenses, and each is characterized by the value of the property that is taken.
Whether the theft is charged as a misdemeanor or felony depends on several factors, including the severity of the crime, the jurisdiction of the crime and the criminal history of the defendant. Some theft crimes are classified as a petty theft, while others are classified as a grand theft.
Theft that involves a high value of merchandise, such as a car or an animal, will typically be categorized as a grand felony and can result in significant penalties. This can include a jail sentence or even prison time.
Shoplifting is another type of theft that can be charged as a misdemeanor, or as a petty theft. This is where someone steals an item from a store and then leaves the premises without paying for it. It is not uncommon for shoplifters to use tools to defeat the theft prevention devices that are often set up at stores, and it is also possible to hide merchandise while committing the theft.
Some states have special laws that make shoplifting charges more serious, and those charges can be enhanced under certain circumstances. These additional charges can increase the sentence length for a crime, which can be an important factor when your criminal defense lawyer is trying to convince the court that you should not serve any jail time.
In general, a person will only be convicted of a theft offense if they dishonestly take the property belonging to another person with the intention of permanently depriving that person of it. This is known as the actus reus of theft.
The actus reus of theft is very broad, and can be used to prosecute people for a wide range of crimes. It includes a person stealing something from a friend or family member, taking something out of a public place with the intent to take it, and using another person’s money or property for their own purposes.
A petty theft is the lowest level of a shoplifting charge, and is normally punished by probation or county jail. If the value of the merchandise stolen is above a threshold amount (usually around $1,000), then it can be charged as a felony.
Moreover, a felony charge can be brought for stealing government or bank property. If the theft is committed by a government employee, or for the benefit of a bank or other financial institution, it can be charged as larceny against government property.
If the value of the merchandise is less than a threshold amount, it can be charged as a petty theft, although many states have set minimum values for this.
If you are convicted of shoplifting or any other theft-related crime, it is very important to get the help of an experienced attorney as soon as possible. The consequences of a conviction can be devastating, and it is important to have an expert on your side to ensure that you receive the best possible outcome for your case.