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Larceny is a theft. As per the Revised Code of Washington section 9A.56.020, a person commits a theft when he or she “wrongfully obtains or exerts unauthorized control over the property or services of another or the value thereof, with intent to deprive him or her of such property or services.” A theft is also committed by deception in order to gain control of the property or services of somebody else and deprive him or her of that property. Theft can also occur when a person appropriates lost or “misdelivered” property or services, or the value thereof with the intent to deprive the victim of their property or services.

Value of Property or Services

When a theft or shoplifting charge is filed in the State of Washington, it can be filed as either a gross misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the property or services. The threshold value is $750 or more. Pursuant to the Revised Code of Washington, section 9A.56.050, somebody “is guilty of theft in the third degree if he or she commits theft of property or services which does not exceed $750 in value” A conviction for theft in the third degree is punishable by 364 days in jail and a fine not to exceed $5,000. A court may order restitution. In addition to a criminal sentence, a civil remedy is in place for business owners. A person who commits a theft can be held liable to the seller or owner for the retail value of the property along with a penalty of up to $2,850 and an additional penalty between $100 and $650. Parents can be held civilly liable for thefts committed by their children for up to $1,425 along with an additional $100 to $600.


There is only one statutory defense to theft in Washington. That is when “the property or service was appropriated openly and avowedly under a claim of title made in good faith, even though the claim be untenable.” Mistake or inadvertence are two commonly used non-statutory defenses. Intent might also be raised if the accused person intended to return goods and had the capability of doing so.


Theft is a crime of moral turpitude, so you’ll want to do anything legally possible to prevent a conviction. Such a conviction can affect job, educational and housing opportunities. In return for payment and satisfaction of civil penalties, and an agreement by the victim, prosecutors and judges might agree to dismissal of a theft charge, but be aware of the fact the policies of prosecutors and judges vary from courtroom to courtroom.

Contact a Spokane Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you’ve been charged with theft in or around Spokane, you’ll want to speak with a knowledgeable, respected and effective Spokane criminal defense lawyer from our offices. Contact us, and you can arrange for a free consultation and case review with a Spokane criminal defense lawyer who will listen carefully to you, answer your questions and advise you of your legal options. We don’t want to see a theft conviction on your record.

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