Spotsylvania Theft Attorney
Theft is the act of stealing. Anything that involves the conversion of something of value from one person to another without that person’s consent is considered stealing. Because of the broad scope, there can be several different charges that involve theft in Spotsylvania County, and each of these theft-related crimes can carry serious ramifications that warrant the attention of a Spotsylvania theft lawyer. Some examples of criminal theft charges include, but are certainly not limited to:
- Credit card theft
- Credit card fraud
- Writing a bad check
- Concealment of merchandise while within a store
For this reason, it is vital to have a Spotsylvania County defense lawyer review your case as early as possible, to begin building a defense right away.
If a person is charged with misdemeanor theft and the government has enough evidence to convict, the hope is that they are eligible for a deferred finding. With no prior record, they might be eligible for some kind of deferred finding, which would enable them to keep their record clean. Under most circumstances in Spotsylvania County, a person charged with misdemeanor theft will have to fight in order to try to keep a clean record, because it is not always a given that they’ll be given a first offender disposition.
Felony theft charges are, by their very nature, much more serious charges. Felony charges carry with them the possibility of incarceration, and felony theft conviction carries with it a permanent felony record that will absolutely hinder the convicted when trying to gain employment. In Virginia, felony level theft begins with anything valued at over $500, which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. Most people who are charged with felony theft do not sustain that kind of penalty, but it certainly is a possible outcome that needs to be taken very seriously by the accused and their Spotsylvania theft lawyer.
Elements That Must Be Proven
There are too many different theft charges to highlight the specific elements in each one that a prosecutor must prove. However, the most critical element in any theft charge that a government attorney must prove is the element of intent. They must prove beyond a reasonable doubt whether the person who is charged with the crime of theft intended to illegally convert some piece of merchandise to their own possession and intended to do so permanently without proper compensation for that item.
Theft Charges and Prior Criminal Convictions
If a person is charged with theft after a prior criminal record, their case will be treated more seriously by prosecutors and judges alike. If convicted of a felony, Virginia uses sentencing guidelines that assign points for various elements of the crime that might be considered to be aggravating factors. Certainly one of the most aggravating factors that can exist in any felony sentencing is whether that person has a previous criminal offense. Conversely, if a person has no previous criminal history, the odds are very good on a first offense charge that the person will end up with probation only.
However, if a person has prior felony charges on their record, it is entirely possible and even likely that their guideline recommendation will be something that involves actual time to serve, so having a prior criminal record in any kind of case in Virginia leaves the person exposed to higher possible sentences.
Probation or Reduced Sentence Options
If a person is charged in Virginia with a theft offense and that charge represents their first criminal charge, it is certainly possible that a theft attorney in Spotsylvania will be able to get some kind of disposition that protects that person from having a criminal record going forward.
Generally, what that looks like is a person gets placed on a period of probation and the judge continues the case to the conclusion of that probationary period, with the goal of ultimately dismissing the charge against that person, provided that they comply with the terms of the probation.
Building a Defense
The first thing a Spotsylvania County theft attorney may want to know is what the government can prove about the charge. Based on their evidence as the client knows it, the attorney will start building a defense around the government’s ability to prove the charge. There are three primary inquiries:
- What they can prove
- What really happened
- What is their missing evidence, if any
If it looks like they are going to be able to prove it, the lawyer will begin to find ways to mitigate the charges against the client.
Benefits of a Theft Attorney in Spotsylvania
The first thing that any Spotsylvania theft attorney will do in preparing a defense is to figure out what the evidence against his or her client is and whether or not the government is going to be able to prove their case. In a lot of cases, the evidence that the government has or the evidence that the government thinks they have is not particularly strong. In those cases, it is incumbent the attorney to come up with the plan and to rebut the evidence that the government claims to have in the defendant’s case.
It other cases, it might be clear that the government can prove their case, so it is up to the Spotsylvania theft lawyer to find ways to mitigate the charges against that person. By making it so that the person who committed the offense has a resolution that is better than they would have had if not for that attorney’s efforts.