Theft crimes is an umbrella that covers other thievery offenses. Theft offenses are often related to crimes that involve unauthorized action of taking a property owned by another individual and permanently deprive them of it.

These cases can lead to jail time which is why the defendant must work with an experienced and reputable theft lawyer to help them deal with the justice system.

Theft crimes previously involved three categories namely pretenses, embezzlement, and larceny. Nowadays, there are two main charges or categories called petty theft and grand theft. Each of the categories covers different types of thievery offenses and property crimes.

All theft crimes have their basic elements with their slight variations. Each theft crime has a different punishment if the defendant is found guilty. In some cases, grand theft can lead to up to one year in prison and a felony charge which will be a difficult record to remove. A specific theft lawyer can work on lessening and creating a defense strategy to help the client’s plight in court.

Petty and Grand Theft

Lawyers with a specialty in theft crimes could greatly help defendants in these cases as they are specialists in the field. They know the ins and outs of the cases which makes their experience valuable. Defendants would only want to be charged with petty theft as grand theft is deemed as a more serious crime which can lead to heftier and harsher punishments. In some jurisdictions, the theft crime can be charged as first-degree theft instead of grand theft.

A theft offense can be considered grand theft if:

- The stolen property is worth more than a minimum of $500 to $1000 upwards.
- The property was directly taken from the owner by using fear or force. In a case where fear and force were used, the crime is determined as robbery.
- The offense can be considered grand theft depending on the type and value of the property taken.

However, car theft or some animal types can be regarded as grand theft regardless of their cost and market value.

If a thievery offense does not fall under the grand theft category then it is considered petty theft. In some states, it would mean that the defendant might be charged a second-degree theft instead of petty theft. The state of Washington uses first, second, and third-degree theft instead of petty or grand theft.

Lost Property Vs. Stolen Property

Theft Offense Involving Lost Property

If a person keeps a lost property even with the ability to return the property to the owner, it can qualify as a theft offense. An example is if person A sees a $100 bill sitting on a bench with no one else around, person A will not be guilty of any theft offense if he chooses to keep it. The situation would be different if while person A is walking, he sees the man in front of him dropped the $100 without noticing it and person A decided to keep the $100. It can qualify as theft. Person A knew who the money belonged to, with the capacity of returning it but did not return it.

Based on a legal standpoint, person A is committing a “constructive taking” act as he could have easily returned the money to the owner.

Theft Offense Involving Stolen Property

Keeping or buying any stolen property falls under a crime that is related to receiving stolen goods. Convicting a defendant who received stolen goods, the authorities need to prove that the property under the defendant’s possession is stolen. The authorities must also prove that the defendant acquired the property knowing that the item was stolen. In these cases, the authorities would check on circumstantial evidence to look for facts proving that the defendant is aware that the item he or she received was stolen. The authorities’ case often relies on certain evidence that has alerted any person that the items involved were a hot commodity.

Robbery

Robbery is the type of crime that involves an act of taking something or anyone’s property through the use or threat of force. In common law definition, robbery is referred to as taking someone’s property, with the intent of permanently depriving the owner of his own property through force or fear. Robbery is differentiated from other types of theft crimes due to its violent nature. Other theft crimes are tried as misdemeanors but robbery is considered a felony.

Armed robbery uses a weapon during the act of the crime.

Highway robbery is also referred to as mugging. This type of robbery occurs in streets, parking lots, or sidewalks.

Embezzlement

Embezzlement is another theft crime that involves withholding property or assets to whom those things were entrusted. The victim, in this case, trusted his or her property to the perpetrator. Embezzlement is financial fraud. An example is if a lawyer was tasked by clients to handle their trust funds. However, the fund manager took the money entrusted and transferred the money for his own gain. The crime committed in this scenario is embezzlement.

Another scenario would be either be a wife or husband embezzling money from a joint bank account, shared with the spouse.

Embezzlement is a premeditated offense which is done by the perpetrator methodically. Often times, the perpetrator did the crime in a methodical way, taking precautions that will conceal the illegal conversion of any property. The crime occurs without the consent or knowledge of the real owner of the money or property. Embezzlement usually is a premeditated crime, performed methodically, with precautions that conceal the criminal conversion of the property, which occurs without the knowledge or consent of the victim.

White-Collar Crime

White-collar crime can also be referred to as corporate crime. It is a non-violent crime that is financially motivated. It is committed by either government or business professionals. Some white-collar crimes include money laundering, forgery, and identity theft.

Other kinds of theft offenses involved different types of thievery crimes. Every crime has its brevity and nature which has its particular set of punishments. To understand and learn more about the law in every jurisdiction, defendants or people who need legal advice should seek a specialized theft lawyer with knowledge and experience in the criminal defense system such as the law firm Benari Law to help out in their cases.

Author's Bio: 

A mother who uses writing to share information on various societal issues, home improvements, DIY, health, earning opportunities, lifestyle, family, motherhood– in other words, life itself.