The state of Washington generally defines a theft as the taking of the property of another person without his or her authorization or consent. Depending on the value of the property, a theft will be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If the value of the stolen property is in excess of $750, the crime will ordinarily be charged as a felony. Theft in Washington can range from something as simple as the shoplifting of a candy bar to something as complex as the embezzlement of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Classifications of theft convictions
Washington classifies theft crimes at three levels. Each classification carries its own possible penalties.
Third degree theft
These involve nearly all thefts when the value of the property stolen was less than $750. Theft in the third degree is classified as a gross misdemeanor. It’s punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine not to exceed $5,000. Most third degree thefts involve shoplifting.
Second degree theft
A second degree theft occurs when the value of the stolen property was between $750 and $5,000. It’s classified as a Class C felony, and it’s punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
First degree theft
Theft in the first degree is a Class B felony involving property with a value in excess of $5,000. A conviction for first degree theft is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to a $20,000 fine.
Keeping a mistake off of your record
There are plenty of habitual criminals. Other people make a mistake by doing something stupid, and then they’re placed under arrest for the first time. Assuming that you’re a first offender, alternative sentencing programs might be available that can operate to keep a theft conviction off of your record. Successfully completing a diversion program or the terms of a deferred sentence could be an attractive option for anybody who is trying to avoid a conviction.
The consequences of a conviction
In the context of getting an education, even a misdemeanor theft conviction can operate to preclude a person from obtaining certain financial aid. That conviction can be even more painful in an employment context. When considering candidates for a position, most large corporations now perform background checks on those individuals. A theft conviction will probably show up on such a check. On the basis of the conviction, a job candidate is unlikely to be hired. That’s because a theft conviction involves dishonesty, deceit and moral turpitude.
The United States Customs and Immigration Service is now looking closely at the criminal backgrounds of people who are not citizens. Much publicity has been given lately to people being taken into custody and deported for criminal convictions that had been previously ignored. Others are being denied re-entry into the United States. Any theft charge involving a non-citizen requires knowledgeable and careful legal representation.
Contact a Spokane / Spokane Valley Criminal Defense Lawyer today
Whether you’re charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, we offer experienced and aggressive representation in your Washington theft case. Many defenses are available to theft allegations. Police and prosecutors don’t want to listen to your side of the story. Their objective is to convict you of a crime. We’ll listen carefully to you, and then we’ll advise you of all of your full range of legal options. Don’t give police a statement or confession. Prosecutors will only try to use it against you in the future. Protect and invoke your rights by contacting us right away after any theft arrest.