Being arrested and charged with a crime is stressful and frightening. In the confusing aftermath of an arrest, many people make mistakes that undermine their own legal defense. As Virginia has some of the harshest theft laws in the entire country, you need to know how to effectively respond to any accusations of criminal misconduct. Here, our Fairfax theft defense lawyers highlight four mistakes you need to avoid if you are facing theft charges in Northern Virginia.
- Underestimating the Severity of the Charge
It would be a major error to view a theft charge as “no big deal”. The Commonwealth has strict laws against theft. Theft can be charged as a felony. Under Code of Virginia § 18.2-95, Virginia’s grand larceny threshold is now $1,000. (Note: The threshold was far lower until changes were made to the law in 2020).
While not all theft charges are felonies in Virginia, all theft charges are a serious matter. Even a misdemeanor theft charge can carry significant, long-term consequences. Among other things, this includes fines, jail time, reputational harm, and loss of future opportunities. Always take a theft charge seriously.
- Talking Directly to the Police
If you were arrested for theft in northern Virginia, you should not make a statement to law enforcement. While it is an understandable impulse, you should never try to talk your way out of trouble. Under the Fourth Amendment, you have the constitutional right to remain silent. It is in your best interests to exercise that right. Police officers are building a case. If you were arrested, then they are not on your side. Quite the contrary, their job is to get you talking as much as possible in an effort to elicit statements that prosecutors can use to obtain a conviction. Deal with the police through a criminal defense attorney.
- Thoughtlessly Pleading Guilty Without Exploring Your Options
Most people want to get through the criminal justice process as quickly as possible—especially if they have never been arrested before. If you are facing theft charges, there can be a temptation to concede and plead guilty just to move forward with your life. Do not plead guilty until you have carefully considered all of your options for raising a viable defense. Remember, the prosecution has the burden of proving their charges beyond a reasonable doubt. In some cases, a plea bargain is the right strategy, but you should not rush into a guilty plea. You need to get the best deal to secure your future.
- Failing to Hire a Top Virginia Theft Defense Attorney
Criminal law is complicated. You do not have to go up against law enforcement and prosecutors alone. One of the best ways to avoid making mistakes is by hiring an experienced Fairfax, VA criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after an arrest. With a top lawyer in your corner, you can be sure that your case is being handled properly. Important evidence can quickly be lost. You deserve personalized defense from a Virginia theft defense lawyer who you can trust to protect your rights.
Schedule a Confidential Criminal Defense Consultation Today
At Whitestone Young, PC, our Virginia criminal defense lawyers are proud to proud aggressive, client-centered representation to defendants. Do not let a mistake undermine your rights. If you or your family member was arrested on a theft charge, we can help. To set up a strictly confidential review of your case, please contact our law firm today. From our office in Fairfax, we represent people throughout Northern Virginia, including in Alexandria, Arlington, Manassas, Tyson, and Falls Church.