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Perhaps a court has brought theft charges against you. How do you proceed from here? First, you should go out and hire a lawyer because they can fill you in on the specifics of your case. Most theft falls under the category of a state crime rather than federal, but you do have cases where it counts as a federal crime.
Theft becomes a federal crime under a few specific circumstances. For example, the crime involves federal property, or the individual crosses state lines with stolen goods. Stealing government property classifies as a federal crime, and prosecutors will pursue federal theft regardless of the dollar value stolen. To get a federal theft charge, you could also have allegedly misused government money, stolen government property or grants and loans. Federal theft crimes also count as illegal downloads and identity theft.
The big difference between theft being a state crime and a federal crime is that federal courts have more complexity than a state crime. The procedures differ between the state courts and the federal courts. The federal court system has a more complicated set of guidelines when it comes to sentencing, and the federal courts will draw on a more extensive list of resources to get a conviction. In addition, if you have been charged with federal theft, you can normally count on having more severe consequences than in the state system. The maximum amount of time that you face with state charges is seven years.
Let’s say that less than $50 was stolen. This classifies as a summary offense, and will most likely classify as a misdemeanor. You could also be charged with a crime if you accept or take the property of someone that you know has been stolen. However, the prosecutor must be able to prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that you accepted this property knowing that it had been stolen.
Under Philadelphia law, they will normally classify it as stolen property if:
First, the lack of intent to steal from the rightful owner becomes the best defense against this crime. If you can prove a lack of intent, a lawyer can defend you from this crime. You can also use the defense of your age or that you were under duress. For example, you were forced to commit a crime under the threat of violence. Entrapment is another defense. This happens when law enforcement tries to get someone to commit a crime that they would’ve been unwilling to commit under normal circumstances. Finally, you have the last case where the property wasn’t stolen to begin with. For example, the original owner says that the property was lost instead. Under these circumstances, you could put up a plausible defense against theft.
Theft can be as simple as theft from a convenience store, but this crime could become as complex as a jewelry thief in a diamond heist. Having a skilled attorney will help you to effectively defend against the prosecutor’s charges. The prosecutor has an obligation to prove that you took the property knowing that it was stolen, and they have to prove this beyond any shadow of a doubt.
State laws change quite often, which is one of the reasons that you need a talented attorney at your side to help you. For the smaller charges, it will range anywhere from 90 days in jail for up to seven years. It depends on the severity of the offense. The higher the value of the item that you stole, the longer the amount of time that you could be facing.