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how to get a troubled teen back on track

Defense Tips For Those Accused Of Theft

by Bernard Rice

If you've recently been charged with theft, it can have serious consequences for your criminal record. Before you head to court, it's always a good idea to consult with an attorney who can take a closer look at your case to help determine if you'll be facing stiff penalties or even jail time. Here are some factors that you should be aware of in order to be fully prepared for your defense in court. 

How Much Loss Was Incurred

Perhaps the most important part of any theft case is the total value of the item or items stolen. Whether it's an item stolen from someone you know or a major retail store, the total dollar value can impact the type of charges you will receive. Different states have varying limits when determining the difference between a grand or petit larceny charge, so you will need to disclose this information to your lawyer. Petty theft carries a much lesser sentence than grand theft or larceny, so you should be completely honest about what was stolen in order to be sure you're being charged appropriately. Lower valued items may have a chance to be settled out of court, which can help you avoid official criminal charges.

Considering A Civil Agreement

While it's never right to steal, some cases may have the potential to be settled out of court. For example, if you stole a small amount of around $100 from a business or individual, the plaintiff may be willing to not press charges if you agree to repay them in full for the total amount of the loss. This is a situation for your attorney to review and may go to mediation, but it's certainly ideal to just pay back the monetary amount you stole if at all possible. Be sure that your lawyer has the other party sign a civil compromise which will show that they've been completely compensated and that there is no risk of any further charges being pressed. This is the best solution if you want to avoid dealing with a criminal trial or conviction.

Proving Intent

In order for you to be fully convicted of theft, the prosecution must prove that it was your intent to defraud the victim and steal something that belonged to them. Sometimes, missing items or even money can simply be a case of poor communication or confusion on your part, particularly when it is an employer-employee situation. If you were under the influence of medication, alcohol, or drugs, this can actually work in your defense since the attorney may be able to show that you were not of sound mind at the time and, therefore, did not consciously intend to steal. Criminal intent must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in order for you to be convicted of theft, so speak with a local lawyer (such as Thomas A Corletta) about the various nuances of your situation so that they can provide the best method of defense for you and your case.