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Washington DC Theft Lawyer

Theft cases come in many varieties. From stealing a car to failing to pay back a loan, there are many situations that can result in a theft charge. If convicted, the consequences are equally varied — from jail time to fines and unseen costs in the individual’s personal life. If you have been arrested or are under investigation for theft in DC, it is crucial that you immediately contact a Washington DC theft lawyer.

Even if you have not yet been formally charged, police officers and investigators may be building a case against you. A DC theft attorney will help protect your rights, keep you from making mistakes that can put your case in peril, and fight for the best possible resolution.

Theft Charges

An individual may be charged with theft if there is evidence that they took or retained someone else’s property and deprived the rightful owner of it, or converted the use of it to their own or that of another person. The legal penalty the individual would face depends on the value of the goods or service in question.

If the theft is valued at less than $1,000, it is considered a misdemeanor charge and carries a potential of 180 days in jail and $1,000 in fines. If the property is valued at $1,000 or more, it is considered a felony charge, and the accused could face up to 10 years in prison and $5,000 in fines. Whether a misdemeanor or felony, it is vital to consult with a DC theft lawyer who can help prepare a strong defense.

First Steps 

The first thing an individual should do when they are facing theft charges is to consult with an experienced, reputable attorney as soon as possible. There are important decisions to be made, critical pieces of evidence to consider and collect, and significant steps to take. It is very important to consult with a DC theft attorney to address these issues. There are three critical steps to take after facing theft charges:

  • An individual will want to find and consult with qualified, experienced defense counsel. An individual should not make any statements about the case or about the investigation to anyone except counsel. That is crucial. A counsel should run that by their client first because the individual does not want to accidentally convict themselves by talking about what they may or may not have done.
  • An individual does not want to create any witnesses against them by talking about the case to other people. Anything that an individual admits to someone else can be used against them, as an exception to the hearsay rule against out-of-court statements being made and used against them. An individual should not talk to anyone other than an attorney.
  • An individual should quickly identify, to the best of their ability, all of the negative evidence that can be used against them. They should also identify all of the positive evidence that can be used for them, and discuss their findings with an attorney. Negative evidence can include any documents, video, witnesses, or physical evidence; anything that the individual is aware of that can make them look guilty. The positive or exculpatory evidence is anything an individual is aware of that could be useful in defending their case. That could include witnesses, documents, pictures, and things of that nature that would be important to discuss with an attorney as soon as possible.

Shoplifting

Shoplifting has an almost universal meaning. If an individual takes something from a retailer without paying for it, they could be facing this theft charge. In most situations, shoplifting is considered a misdemeanor and carries up to 90 days in jail and a fine of $300. A theft attorney in DC can lead their client through a discussion of an appropriate defense.

Other Charges

Under DC law, there are several theft statutes including joyriding, carjacking, auto theft, robbery, armed robbery, burglary, forgery, embezzlement, and more. An individual may be facing an automobile theft charge and up to 15 years in prison depending on their criminal history and the facts of the case. A charge of Taking Property Without Right is another potential theft crime – a misdemeanor carrying 90 days in jail and $300 in fines.

Charges as Public Record

Any charge is a public record initially. In certain circumstances, an individual can have their record sealed so it is not available for public view or public consumption. However, when they are first filed, they are public.

Outside the United States

An individual can be charged with theft by the U.S. government for things that happened outside of the United States in certain limited circumstances. The United States government has a long reach in some situations over its citizens. For example, there are broad statutes having to do with terrorism, espionage, and under the Office of Foreign Assets Control, sanctions violations. The United States government can and will go after an individual even though the activity occurred outside of the United States.

Any time there is a situation where the alleged activity occurred outside of the United States, a person should consult with a  DC theft lawyer to see if this is the type of activity that the government can reach beyond the physical boundaries of the United States for prosecution. If there is a way to avoid criminal prosecution, an individual should explore that with their attorney.

Benefits of a Theft Lawyer

The variety of theft laws under which a prosecutor can charge an individual can be very confusing. Discussing their case with a Washington DC theft attorney is one way of ensuring that the client knows exactly what they are up against as well as the penalties they may face, such as restitution.

More Information on Theft

Below are several links to further information on theft offenses in DC.