Most people think of theft as taking a tangible item, like shoplifting a candy bar or stealing a car, but theft can also include intellectual property, such as stealing someone’s identity or taking trade secrets from an employer. The taking can also be by fraud instead of force or physically removing the goods. When you are charged with any type of theft, seek assistance from an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Generally, the greater the dollar value of the stolen items, the greater the punishment for the crime. The type of item and the person whose property was stolen and prior convictions for similar crimes can enhance punishments and charges. A Golden Valley theft lawyer could help explain how these factors affect charges.
Types of Theft
Minnesota recognizes several types of theft crimes that can all result in jail time or substantial fines, especially when the theft involves betrayal or physical danger, which the state considers a more serious offense.
Some are strictly stealing offenses, including petty theft, grand theft, and shoplifting, and others crimes are white-collar crimes, such as embezzlement and stealing trade secrets. The most severe types of theft include threats to people or breaking into homes, like robbery, carjacking, and burglary. Identity theft is another type of crime altogether, because an identity may not have a dollar value, but it can translate to extensive losses for their target.
Since the penalties vary depending on the type of theft, how a prosecutor charges a crime can be critical. A Golden Valley theft attorney may be able to negotiate the charges to secure a less severe penalty even if the evidence of theft is overwhelming.
When the offense is strictly theft, the value of the stolen goods determines the penalty. Penalties for theft range from a maximum of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine for goods worth $500 or less, to a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $100,000 fine for goods worth $35,000 or more.
For crimes that involve an element of violence, like robbery or carjacking, the punishments increase. For example, until August 2023, the state did not have a specific carjacking statute and treated carjacking as a type of aggravated robbery. An addition to the law increased penalties, and now first-degree carjacking carries the same penalties as third-degree murder, which can lead to a presumed seven-year sentence for first-time offenders.
Proving a defendant stole the property is only the state’s first step — proving the property’s value is also essential. A defendant may be guilty of a lesser offense if they cannot prove a higher value. Given the range of potential punishments, the proven value can dramatically change the punishment. A Golden Valley lawyer who handles theft cases could challenge the state’s valuation of the stolen property.
Civil Consequences of Theft
Defendants should remember there are both criminal and civil remedies for theft, so in addition to criminal charges, they may face a civil suit from anyone they stole from. When the alleged dollar amount is high, the civil consequences may be more of a threat than criminal consequences.
A Golden Valley attorney who handles theft cases could offer assistance even if they do not represent a defendant in a civil case, because securing a not guilty verdict or a conviction on a lesser charge could weaken the civil case against the defendant.
Work With a Theft Attorney in Golden Valley
Because it is such a broad category of crime, getting advice from a Golden Valley theft lawyer is essential when you are facing charges. They could explain the charges, potential criminal penalties, and your exposure to civil liability.
They could also discuss the proof of the offense, and whether the prosecution will likely meet their burden of proof at trial. Having an attorney could help minimize the impact of a conviction, so schedule a consultation today.