Caught Stealing: What Now?
Perhaps because they believe it's a minor crime, many people shoplift or steal from others without a lot of thought about consequences. To the courts, however, and people deprived of their property, retail and petty theft is not a victimless crime. And if you're caught, charged, and convicted of theft — you may just start to feel like a victim yourself.
Your theft defense attorney understands many people don't "professionally" shoplift to make a living or for profit. Many shoplifters or petty thieves steal for other reasons — such as personal issues or peer pressure. Regardless, it's still a crime, and you need legal assistance on your side.
Washington divides charges of theft into three levels. Petit (or petty) theft and shoplifting usually fall under third-degree theft. Following are those levels and their penalties; however, penalties vary depending on factors surrounding the crime.
Theft Third Degree (Simple Theft)
Theft of property or services valued at less than $750. Third-degree theft is a typical shoplifting charge. It's also a gross misdemeanor and may come with a maximum of one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Theft Second Degree
Theft of property or services valued at more than $750 but less than $5,000. This also includes theft of an access card such as an ATM card. Second-degree theft is a Class C felony.
Theft First Degree
Theft of property or services valued at more than $5,000 or of any value if taken directly from another person. First-degree theft is a Class B felony.
Even though your charges may "only" be theft in the third degree, don't underestimate the seriousness of the consequences. A Washington theft defense lawyer can explain in detail that even a misdemeanor can have an effect on your life for a long time. In addition to answering for your crime in court, you will likely have to make restitution to the business from which you stole, and even paying that company's legal fees.
If you make a mistake, don't let it follow you around forever. If you are charged with petty or retail theft in Tacoma, Washington, contact a defense attorney as soon as possible.