While theft is typically viewed as the act of taking something that does not belong to you, the legal definition of theft can vary. Virginia has different categories of theft, such as robbery, burglary, shoplifting, petit larceny, and grand larceny. Each offense has a specific legal definition and carries its own set of penalties.
No matter the scope of the crime, a theft conviction can have a wide-ranging and lasting impact on your personal and professional life. However, there are strategies that an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to use to fight back against the charges you face.
What Are Some Defenses to Theft Charges?
An experienced criminal defense attorney will always take the time to review a case before crafting a compelling defense strategy. Every arrest is different, and an attorney must consider all circumstances unique to the case before settling on a strategic defense plan.
However, there are different tactics that an attorney may consider when they are defending an individual against theft charges. Common defenses to theft charges can include:
- Lack of Intent- Generally, in theft cases, an individual needs to intend to steal someone else’s property. If an individual has permission to take the property, or they reasonably believed that they had permission to take the property, that may demonstrate that the individual lacked the intent to commit a crime.
- Entrapment- Dealing with authority figures can be intimidating. If a law enforcement official convinces a person to steal something you would not have taken ordinarily, that may be entrapment.
- Duress- Duress is sometimes confused with entrapment but, the two terms are not interchangeable. Duress occurs when an individual steals property because they were threatened with violence. Duress may be a viable defense strategy in cases where an individual is blackmailed into committing theft as well.
- No Violence Was Involved- Robbery is a form of theft that involves the use of force or threat of violence. If law enforcement and prosecutors cannot prove that violence was involved, a robbery charge may not be appropriate. A defense attorney may be able to utilize this to your advantage.
- Mistaken Identity- In the heat of the moment, it can be hard to recognize and recall faces. There are instances where an individual could be arrested for a crime, but either the witnesses are mistaken, or surveillance video cannot verify the identity of the suspect. Mistaken identity may be a viable defense, especially if you have an alibi.
- Poor Handling by Law Enforcement- Individuals can’t just be arrested and thrown in jail. There is a process that must be adhered and those charged with crimes have legal rights. If an officer fails to read you your rights, evidence is improperly collected, or there are critical errors in the way they process your case, a defense attorney may be able to get your charges dismissed.
A petit larceny conviction could result in penalties of one year in jail and fines up to $2,000. A grand larceny conviction can land a person in prison for up to 20 years and result in hefty fines and penalties.
Contact a Fairfax Theft Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with theft, contact an experienced Fairfax criminal defense attorney at Whitestone Young, PC, today. The sooner you call, the better. We can immediately get to work reviewing your case and find the best path forward for handling your situation. Call us at (703) 591-0200 or reach out to us online for a thorough and 100% confidential consultation.