Theft crimes encompass any activity in which a person wrongfully takes or steals another person's property without permission. While many crimes fall under the umbrella of theft, some of the most common theft crimes in Santa Barbara include shoplifting, burglary, auto theft, and identity theft. If you have been charged with a theft crime, it is imperative to seek legal counsel.
Theft crimes are among some of the most harshly prosecuted crimes. Many prosecutors feel strongly about holding defendants in theft crime cases accountable and may go to extensive measures to ensure they garner a conviction. If you are facing theft crime charges in Santa Barbara, you should consult with a skilled theft defense lawyer. Outlined below are examples of theft crimes, their potential penalties, and common defense strategies your lawyer may use in your case.
What Constitutes a Theft Crime?
Theft is defined as the willful action of taking someone's property without their authorization and with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of their property. Theft encompasses a variety of crimes that are committed against another person's property, which covers a wide scope. For example, theft may include physical property—such as a car—but also less tangible property, such as someone's identity. Some of the most common theft crimes include:
- Petty theft encompasses all theft crimes that involve the unlawful, unauthorized taking of a person's property in which the value of the property is under $950.
- Grand theft includes all theft crimes that involve the unlawful, unauthorized taking of a person's property in which the value of the property is above $950.
- Shoplifting is a crime that involves entering a commercial establishment during normal business hours with the intent to commit a theft valued at $950 or less.
- First-degree burglary, commonly referred to as residential burglary, involves breaking and entering into residential property—either when the owners are or are not home—with the intent to take the owner's property. First-degree burglaries may have harsher penalties than second-degree burglary offenses.
- Second-degree burglary, commonly referred to as commercial burglary, includes all forms of a burglary that do not occur in a residential structure but do involve unlawful breaking and entering with intent to take a person's property. For example, stealing a bike from someone's car would be categorized as second-degree burglary.
- Identity theft is a white-collar crime that occurs when someone steals the identity of another person for personal gains. An example of identity theft would include a situation in which a person stole a credit card and used it to buy things for himself.
- Robbery, as defined by the state of California, is the unlawful, felonious taking of personal property while the owner of the property is present, and the “robber” uses intimidation tactics, fear, or violence in the encounter
These are a few of the most common theft crimes in Santa Barbara. The penalties that you may face for any of these crimes vary depending on the facts of your case. If you are facing theft crime charges, seek compassionate legal counsel from a skilled criminal defense attorney.
Potential Penalties of a Theft Crime Conviction
Factors such as the amount of property that is stolen, your criminal history, and the circumstances surrounding the crime may determine whether you face a misdemeanor or felony charge. For example, a burglary that involves violence or weapons may be prosecuted more harshly than a non-violent theft crime. Some of the most common penalties for theft crimes may include:
- Jail time
- Court-ordered theft counseling
- Unsupervised or supervised probation
- Community service
- A criminal record
The amount of jail time and fines you may be subject to may depend on the type of charge you are facing. A criminal conviction for a theft crime may result in a criminal record. Since most employers and landlords run background checks, a theft crime conviction may make it challenging to receive employment or find housing. The best way to combat the long-term effects of a theft crime conviction is to seek skilled legal representation.
Potential Defense Strategies for Theft Crimes
There are several strong legal defenses that a lawyer may use in court to raise a reasonable doubt about the defendant's guilt. The specific defense strategy your lawyer may use to defend your case may depend on the kind of theft crime you are being charged with. However, some of the common defense strategies for a theft crime may include:
- The claim of ownership or right to the property. This defense asserts that the defendant genuinely believed they had a right to the property in question—even if their belief was wrong or unreasonable.
- Return of property. This defense asserts that the defendant had borrowed the property in question and was going to return it after temporarily using it.
- Entrapment. An entrapment defense asserts that the defendant was used or forced by another party—usually with violence or threats— to commit the theft crime.
Consult a Skilled Santa Barbara Theft Lawyer
If you are facing theft crime charges in Santa Barbara, the Aron Law Firm is here to help. We provide clients facing theft crime charges with a comprehensive analysis of their case. Mr. Aron and his team work tirelessly to obtain the optimal outcome. By limiting our client roster and the associated caseload, we are able to give more time and attention to each and every case. Our approach prioritizes getting our clients to a better place and understanding their needs at a deep level.
To schedule an appointment with an experienced theft defense lawyer, call today at (805) 618-1768 or fill out our online contact form.