Theft charges cover a broad range of behavior but generally involve the unlawful taking of property that does not belong to you. If you have been arrested for theft, it is important to understand the nature and legal ramifications of these charges so that you can make educated decisions regarding your legal representation.
The good news is that theft cases are often defensible. It is not uncommon for arrests to result from a misunderstanding or an inadequate investigation. A skilled Edina theft lawyer could assist in determining the cause for your arrest and moving forward with legal action, seeking the most favorable outcome for you.
Understanding Theft Offenses
In Edina, the offense of theft is laid out by Minnesota Statutes § 609.52. Some of the common examples of theft as defined by the state law include:
- Stealing merchandise or money from a business
- Taking another person’s car or truck without their permission
- Stealing using deception
- Improperly using a trade secret
- Appropriating lost property
The common thread among these offenses is the unlawful taking of property from another person. In order for theft to occur under the law, this taking must have happened with the intent to deprive the lawful owner of the property in question. A seasoned theft attorney in Edina could work to mount a defense against any of these potential allegations, considering the specific facts of a case in order to build a strong argument for the defendant. With the appropriate defense strategy, it could be possible to have a theft charge reduced or even dismissed.
Penalties for Theft
There are various penalties that could apply in a theft case. The most important factor in determining whether the state charges a theft offense as a felony or a misdemeanor is the value of the property that was allegedly taken. In most cases, the theft of an item valued below $1,000 is treated as a misdemeanor, while anything worth more than $1,000 is considered a felony offense.
Misdemeanor penalties may vary depending on the facts of a case. When the item taken is valued below $500, the maximum penalty is a $1,000 fine and a jail sentence of no more than 90 days. The theft of an item valued between $500 and $1,000 is considered a gross misdemeanor, which brings up to a year in jail and a fine of no more than $3,000.
There are a few circumstances where a theft charge is treated as a felony by prosecutors. The most common of these is the alleged theft of goods or services valued above $1,000. The higher the value of the goods and services, the steeper the maximum penalties a theft conviction might bring. In the most serious cases, a conviction could bring a fine of up to $100,000 and as many as 20 years behind bars.
There are situations in which a theft charge that would otherwise be considered a misdemeanor is upgraded to a felony. For example, repeat offenders could see their gross misdemeanor theft arrest result in a felony prosecution. Theft from a vacant building or through the use of wire fraud could also lead to steeper penalties. A well-versed lawyer in Edina could explain the differences between misdemeanor and felony theft charges as well as the resulting criminal liability for each.
Let an Edina Theft Attorney Fight for You
Theft charges can have harsh penalties, making it difficult to seek employment, housing, or a job. A strong defense could reduce the impact of these charges or even result in your acquittal.