Property crimes are often ones that are intentional criminal acts that then result in taking or destroying the property of another person, without the consent of the owner of that property.
This can include personal property like a home or business or personal property including material objects such as a TV or another valuable. Depending on the severity of the case, these property crimes can include felony and misdemeanor offenses.
The charges for property crimes will often be distinguished from violent crimes or ones that involve the threat of force, or even actual force, to take the property. An example of property crimes that involve violence would be robbery. It is possible to commit a theft and property crime without the threat or use of violence. For example, if someone breaks into a home and steals items when a family is not home, then no violence would occur.
There are many types of property crime that may occur. Some common options include arson, burglary, criminal mischief, fraud, and theft.
Types of Property Crimes
There are different types of property crimes that you may need to defend yourself on. The severity of the offense and the type of charge you face will depend on the value of the property that you damage or take. Finding the proper valuation of your theft or damage is a very important part of the defense we provide to you. The lower the valuation, the lesser charge you will face.
The types of property crimes that are prosecuted in most states including:
- Burglary of a vehicle or dwelling, regardless of whether the dwelling is occupied or unoccupied at the time.
- Theft crimes. These may include shoplifting, larceny, petit theft, employee theft, and grand theft.
- Burning of an item or property to defraud the insurance company and claim the money.
- Scheme to defraud someone or an organization
- Dealing in property that is stolen. The property must be knowingly stolen before charges can stick.
- Criminal vandalism or mischief.
Types of Theft Crimes
It is possible that you are charged with a theft crime instead. These are sometimes lumped together with property charges because they do include the defendant stealing property from another person. However, there are a few different types of theft crimes available that we have not discussed before. The most common types of theft crimes include:
Petty theft and grand theft
Petty theft and grand theft are similar ideas; the difference is the amount the stolen property is wroth. You will have a charge of petty theft for taking property or money that is worth less than $950. This is a misdemeanor and will carry, as a maximum, six months in jail and a fine of $1000. Since this is a lower amount, if it is your first offense, you may get off with less.
Grand theft is any time money or property is taken and the amount is more than $950. Depending on the state and what else happened during the robbery, it is possible for grand theft to be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The maximum for this is three years in prison and a fine up to $1000.
Because there is a big difference in the charges that come with petty theft and grand theft, we may choose to work with our clients to make a plea bargain to petty theft rather than grand theft. If the monetary value is not too high and no violence occurred, it is possible the prosecutor will agree to this. No matter what type of theft though, we will work with you to provide the best defense possible.
Another type of theft crime is known as robbery. Robbery is a type of theft that will include threats, intimidation, and violence in order to obtain property from another person. This crime has a higher penalty than simple larceny because the threat element is present. Since the owner of the property worries they will get hurt, they are more likely to give up the item to protect themselves.
When a theft occurs and the use of a knife, gun, and other weapons are found, then it turns into an armed robbery. Since the likelihood of the owner of the property can get hurt in this case, a conviction of armed robbery will have harsher penalties compared to a simple robbery. Each state is different but it is possible to receive a sentence of three to nine years in prison for this conviction.
For a charge of embezzlement to occur, there needs to be the theft of assets, which can be either property or money, by someone who has been trusted to keep all of those assets safe. If someone leaves their retirement money with a financial advisor, then they have reasonable expectations that the advisor will take care of the money and help it grow. If that financial advisor then stole the money and ran off, this would be embezzlement. It is common for this type of crime, when it does occur, to happen in corporate and employment settings.
Fraud is a crime that includes stealing but it will involve more convincing rather than force. The victim will surrender their property or money because they are convinced it is a great opportunity. But the one who takes the money is doing this under false pretenses. Fraud is often referred to as a white-collar crime. It takes money away from someone but is not going to include any violence with it.
This is a theft crime where an individual will steal goods from a retail establishment. This is a very common property crime that can happen in any state. It usually involves paying a fine, which will depend on the value of the property stolen. If you have a past record, it is possible that jail time, up to six months, is added.
Receiving stolen property
It is illegal for any person to sell, conceal, receive, or buy property if that individual knows the property has been stolen. Even if you were not the one who stole the property, if you know another person did and you still receive, hide, or conceal it, ten this is a property crime. Receiving stolen property can be charged either as a felony or a misdemeanor depending on how much property was stolen and the value of it.
The key term here is that the individual who buys or sells that item must know that it is stolen. If you go to a pawn store or another thrift store and purchase an item, you would assume that all of those items are legitimately there. If the item is then discovered to be stolen, you would not be charged because you did not know it was stolen in the first place.
However, if you receive or purchase an item and you are told that the item was stolen or you have a reasonable suspicion that the item has been stolen before it reached your possession, you can be charged with receiving stolen property.
Writing bad checks
This is a type of crime that occurs when the individual willingly writes a check and tries to use it from an account that they already knew didn’t have enough funds. It is often done in the hopes of defrauding the person who gets the check so that the check writer can walk away with the item without paying.
If you write a check and miscalculated how much was in your account one time, you will not be charged with theft and property crimes. This is especially true if you wrote a check for a small amount. But when it is a large amount, the individual is a repeat offender, or there is other proof that they knew ahead of time the account did not have enough money, then the individual can be charged with writing bad checks.
This theft and property crime is when an individual steals, or attempts to steal, any type of motor vehicle. This can include trailers, motorcycles, buses, trucks, and automobiles of any kind. If the individual does not have permission to have that vehicle, then it is considered car theft.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony Charges
Depending on the type of crime you committed, the amount of the property you stole, or your previous record, you may face a conviction of either misdemeanor or felony charges. Understanding what each of these means can help form the best defense case for your needs.
What is a Misdemeanor?
Misdemeanor is one that is used for cases that need less than a year of jail time. There are several classes of misdemeanor as well based on the type of crime that occurred including:
- Class A misdemeanor: This will carry between six months and one year of jail time.
- Class B misdemeanor: This will case between 30 days and six months of jail time.
- Class C misdemeanor: This will carry between five days and 30 days of jail time.
These crimes are usually served in a local county jail if jail time does occur. If you receive a misdemeanor conviction and it is your first charge, it is possible that our team can work to reduce or eliminate the amount of time that you need to spend in jail at all.
What is a Felony?
A felony is considered the most serious type of crime, though it is not uniform through the whole country. Usually a felony will encompass any type of crime that needs more than a year in jail as a punishment. Some states use this term to list out the place of incarceration, meaning that they may end up in state prison rather than their local prison for the issue.
There are several types of felonies based on the severity of the case. Most theft and property crimes will not get the highest types of felonies, but it is a possibility if many people were hurt in the process of the crime. The types of felonies include:
- Class A felony: This conviction results in the death penalty or life imprisonment.
- Class B felony: The conviction results in the individual spending at least 25 years in prison.
- Class C felony: This conviction results in the individual spending between 10 to 25 years in prison.
- Class D felony: This conviction results in the individual spending between five and ten years in prison.
- Class E felony: This conviction results in the individual spending between one and five years in prison.
Felonies will usually be the severe crimes that society views harshly including arson, murder, and burglary. However, there are different ways to classify the crime and our team can help with your charges, even if they are felony charges.
Should I Handle My Own Theft and Property Crimes Case?
There are many individuals who worry they will not be able to afford a quality attorney. Because of this, they may choose to handle their own theft and property crimes case. Unfortunately, since these individuals do not often have a good knowledge of the law surrounding these cases, the end result is not as good as they had hoped.
A criminal defense attorney can help handle all parts of the case for you. They have the right knowledge and experience to know how the process works and how to give you the best result possible, regardless of the case and your past record. They will come up with the best defense, walk you through the process, and handle any negotiations that come your way.
Many attorneys are willing to work with you, even with a payment plan, to ensure you get the best defense possible. Do not put your criminal record and life in jeopardy by trying to do it all on your own; hire the right attorneys to make things easier.
When you are first charged with any type of theft and property crime, it is important to get the right team on your side. Our lawyers have dealt with many theft and property crimes and can come up with the best defense to help to get the charges dropped, or even negotiate lower charges for your crime. Do not try to handle your criminal charges on your own. Contact our team today to learn how we can help you.