To prove a general theft charge, either petty or grand, the prosecutor must show:
• You took property owned by someone else.
• You did not have the owner's consent.
• You intended to take it from the owner to deprive the owner of use.
• You moved the owner's belongings any distance and retained possession of it for any duration of time.
Note that moving the property and keeping it does not have to involve a large distance or long amount of time.
The prosecutor may also approach your case by proving theft by false pretense. The elements the prosecutor must prove are:
• You took property from its owner under false pretenses.
• You had the intent to persuade the owner to give it to you.
• The owner let you take his or her property because he or she believed your false claims.
Another approach is proving theft by trick:
• You took someone else's property.
• The owner consented because you used fraud to take it.
• You intended to keep the property and deprive the owner of use permanently.
• You kept it for any period of time.
• The owner did not intend to give you permanent ownership.
In some cases, the prosecutor will want to charge you with embezzlement, which is a white-collar theft crime. To prove this,
the prosecutor will need to show the following:
• The owner entrusted you with the property.
• He or she did so with trust in you.
• You used the property for your own benefit.
• You deprived the owner of the property due to your use.
It is essential that your San Diego theft defense attorney knows the approach of the prosecutor. This will allow him or her to mount the proper defense to disprove the elements required to get a conviction.
The potential penalties the court may hand down if it finds you guilty of a theft charge depend on whether you face charges of petty or grand theft.
Petty theft charges can result in a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail. If the value of the property is $50 or less, the prosecutor can reduce the charges and impose a fine up to $250 as the only penalty.
Grand theft charges can lead to jail time up to one year and a fine up to $1,000 if your charge is a misdemeanor. If you face a felony charge, you could end up with a prison sentence of up to three years and a fine up to $10,000.
Punishment often depends on prior criminal history. If you had previous theft convictions, the judge could impose a harsher sentence.
While you will want to work closely with your San Diego theft defense attorney, he or she will consult with you to come up with a proper defense to the charges. There are a few options you can use, but you will need to provide evidence that backs up your claim.
Claim of ownership is one option. You could use this defense if you thought the property was yours. Most often, this would be a situation where there was a misunderstanding over ownership.
Another option for a defense is the theft was a mistake. This may go hand-in-hand with the claim of ownership defense. You might have thought an item was yours and mistakenly took it. Another situation where this may apply is if you grab something without realizing it isn't yours. In any case, a mistake defense shows you had no intent to steal.
You can also defend against charges by showing the owner gave you consent to take the property. This can get sticky if the prosecutor is using the approach of theft by trick or false pretense as having the owner's permission is present in both of these situations. The main thing you will have to prove is that the owner gave you the property of his or her own free will with no fraud on your part.
Other defense options include entrapment and intoxication, leading to a lack of intent. Entrapment would require showing that someone set you up to commit a theft, and you did not have any intent to commit the act. Intoxication leading to lack of intent would be a situation where you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs and had no control over your actions, so you essentially did not even know that you were committing a theft.
If you are facing theft charges, you need a skilled attorney by your side to help you with your defense. Get the assistance of an experienced San Diego theft defense lawyer by contacting us today
. You can also call us at 702-800-3190