In DC, theft is defined as the use or taking of property that belongs to someone else without their permission or obtaining property by deception. Such conduct, coupled with the intent to keep the property for oneself, constitutes theft.
The elements of theft in DC are that a person wrongfully obtains or uses property, and that can be done in three different ways. Theft includes taking the property, making an unauthorized use of property already in their possession, and obtaining the property by false pretenses, trick, or deception. Additional elements are that the person must wrongfully obtain the property with the intent to deprive the other person of their right to their property or their benefit of the property or to take the property for one’s own use.
Understanding DC theft charges is crucial to building an effective defense. If you are facing charges, reach out to an experienced theft lawyer today.
Theft could also include other crimes such as shoplifting or auto theft. DC has a distinct statute for shoplifting and a separate statute for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, which can cover some motor vehicle thefts and what is commonly referred to as joyriding. All other types of theft are included under the general theft statute. That would consist of theft crimes that may be covered under separate statutes in other jurisdictions, such as larceny and petty theft. Arguably, conduct that constitutes shoplifting or motor vehicle theft could also be charged under the general theft statute.
As with any criminal charge, a theft conviction is serious. Theft includes potential jail time, probation with restrictive conditions, and the looming threat of being sent to jail if one violates any of those conditions. There also can be court costs and fines. A convicted individual can also be ordered to pay restitution.
A theft conviction can severely impact one’s personal and professional life. An individual can lose their job, professional license, and have difficulty finding another job. It could affect a person’s immigration status if they are not a U.S. citizen. There can also be social consequences, affecting their reputation and their standing with family or friends.
Misdemeanor theft in DC is called theft in the second degree, and the maximum penalty is a jail term of 180 days. A defendant can also be fined up to $1,000. Also, a person could face a period of probation and additional restitution payments, as well as other collateral repercussions.
Felony theft is also called theft in the first degree and applies if the value of the stolen property is $1,000 or more. The maximum penalty for theft in the first degree is a prison sentence of ten years and a fine of up to $25,000. Also, that person can face a period of probation, restitution payments, and additional consequences that may come as a result of a felony conviction.
It is important to understand that prior convictions can significantly impact a theft case. There are at least two ways a prior criminal conviction can affect someone charged with theft. For instance, if a person has two prior convictions for theft, they may face a maximum penalty of 15 years in jail and a fine of up to $37,500. In addition to the consequences of restitution, there is also a mandatory minimum sentence of one year. The prior charges will not affect the conduct of a trial, however. If a person takes a case to trial, they will be adjudicated based on whether the new theft occurred, and any prior convictions will not have an impact. Prior convictions can have a significant impact on sentencing.
Theft is a serious criminal charge that carries severe penalties and long-term repercussions. If you are facing charges, you should contact a lawyer who has a significant understanding of DC theft charges. A defense attorney could fight for you and help you reach a favorable outcome to your case. Call today and get started.
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