It is a crime to take property that does not belong to you. This is classified as theft. In order for a person to be convicted of theft, the prosecutor has to prove that the defendant intentionally took something that did not belong to them. People who accept stolen property may also be convicted of theft.
Legal Defenses Against Theft
It is best for you to contact an attorney if you are facing a theft charge because there are several defenses that can be used including the following.
The Ownership of the Property
People who have been accused of theft can state that the property they took was theirs. However, they will have to prove that they are the owner of the property. This may seem like a valid defense, but proving this can be difficult.
You cannot simply say that “I thought the property belonged to me.” You will need to have evidence to support your claim.
People who were under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of the theft may be able to use this as a defense. The type of substance that one was using at the time does not matter. Here is an example of how you can use intoxication as a defense.
You were at a party and had too much to drink. You accidentally grabbed someone else’s coat when it was time for you to go home. You can say that you took someone else’s coat because you thought it was yours. You will still need to provide proof of this.
Even though intoxication can be used as a defense, you could face another charge if you are drunk in public.
Return of Property
Many people wonder whether they can get their charges dismissed if they return stolen property. You can still be charged with theft even if you give back the stolen property. However, you may be able to reduce your penalties if you return the property.
You may be able to convince the court that you borrowed the stolen property and was intending to return it.
Penalties and Sentences
The penalty for theft will depend on the value of the property that was stolen. If the property was less than $50, then it will be classified as summary offense. This is a lesser charge than a misdemeanor or felony. It is not a criminal conviction. However, if someone does a background check on you, then they will be able to see this charge on your record. That is why it should be taken seriously.
If you are charged with a summary offense, then you may be charged a fine. The fine can range from $25 to $1,500. You could be charged with a second-degree felony if the value is over $2,000. However, if the item was a gun, then you may be charged with a first-degree felony.
If the property was between $50 and $200, then you can be charged with a third-degree misdemeanor. You could spend up to seven years in prison if you are charged with major theft.
Why It is Important to Call An Attorney
It is easy to be charged with theft. In fact, if you accidentally put something in your purse and walk out of a store, then you can be charged with theft. That is why it is necessary for you to call a Philadelphia theft attorney.
There are a several defenses that you can use. However, the defenses will not mean anything if you do not plead at the right time and right way. A good attorney can make sure that you have the best defense possible.