Experienced Criminal & DUI Attorney

I have been accused of stealing – what’s going to happen now?

If you are being charged with a theft crime in Portland or any surrounding counties you need an attorney who has defended cases from petty theft to crimes involving tens of thousands of dollars in cash. Regardless of whether it is a major theft or minor shoplifting, any theft conviction can devastate your reputation and have long term consequences in many aspects of your life.

An experienced criminal attorney can guide you through the pitfalls of a prosecution for theft and help to mitigate or eliminate the charges you are facing.

What types of theft offenses can I be charged with?

Generally, a person commits theft when they intentionally and wrongfully take someone else’s property. Aside from cracking open a bank safe, or putting a candy bar in  your pocket at the store, there are many other types of theft:

  • Theft of property that has been lost, mislaid or delivered by mistake
  • Theft by extortion (threatening to commit a crime or expose a secret)
  • Commits theft by deception (by trick or false pretenses)
  • Commits theft by receiving stolen property

Theft crimes are serious offenses and include robbery, armed robbery, burglary, shoplifting, motor vehicle theft, embezzlement, identity theft and possession or receipt of stolen property.

  • Robbery: taking someone else’s property through force or threats of imminent force. There are varying degrees of severity when it comes to robbery. Implying that you have a deadly weapon or using a deadly weapon make the punishment more severe. 
  • Burglary: entering or remaining unlawfully in a building with the intent to commit a crime. You do not need to “break in” to a building in order to commit burglary. For example, if you enter a grocery store with the intent to steal a gallon of milk, this is burglary. Also, the crime does not need to be theft-related. If you enter a grocery store with the intent to beat up a janitor, this is also a burglary. The crime of burglary is more serious if you burglarize someone’s home, or if you have burglary tools, weapons, or threaten or cause injury.
  • Embezzlement: This is a form of theft wherein you had lawful and proper access to the property that you later steal. A good example of this occurs all the time in retail customer service. Your job might be to take cash from the register to the bank deposit every night. You commit embezzlement when you take the money and put it in a shoebox at your house. 
  • Possession/Receipt of Stolen Property: Even if you did not take the property in question, if you are knowingly in possession of property that has been stolen or if you have reason to know that the property was stolen, you may be found criminally liable. This crime can include receiving, retaining, concealing or disposing of stolen property.
  • Identity Theft: In the 21st century, identity theft happens every day. If you use, or try to use someone else’s personal identification in an attempt to trick someone, you can be charged with identity theft. “Personal identification” includes any written document or electronic data with information like someone’s signature, photograph, name, date of birth, address, or ID number.

What is the typical punishment for a theft crime in Oregon?
Every case of theft is different and there are wide variances between the potential charges that may be filed. Generally, the specific charges filed will be based on the value of the items taken and the way in which they were taken.

  • For example: Assuming you don’t have a criminal record for previous crimes, stealing a case of beer from the grocery store will carry less severe punishments than taking $5,000 in cash from a bank teller after threatening the teller with a gun. There is a world of difference between petty theft and armed robbery.

Even though the consequences for certain crimes are substantially lower than others, all theft crimes should be taken seriously for various reasons discussed above. In addition to criminal liability, if you are convicted of theft it can be easy for the victim to sue you in civil court. Your reputation can be ruined. It can often be very difficult to find a good job with theft convictions on your record. A knowledgeable Portland criminal defense lawyer can help you sort through the facts of your case and help you navigate the criminal court process.

What defenses will my attorney raise to defend me from theft charges?

Regardless of whether you are dealing with petty theft charges or the armed robbery of an armored truck, you deserve to have the assistance of a criminal defense attorney who is respected and proactive. For all of his clients, Mr. Pickard will develops a plan that takes into consideration the charges you currently face, your previous criminal history, the defenses available and any plea offers made by the prosecution. Some potential defenses he may be able to raise on your behalf include:

  • Consent: if you had permission to take property you are accused of stealing or were otherwise given rightful possession of it by the owner you may have a valid defense based on the consent of the owner.
  • Mistake: perhaps you inadvertently took property of another person believing it to be yours. If you honestly believed the item(s) belonged to you, your attorney may be able to defend you based on the notion that you did not have the necessary intent to steal because you thought you were merely taking your own property.  
  • Return of stolen property: It isn’t enough to just give stolen property back. You still committed a crime the instant that you formed the intent to wrongfully steal the property. However, a skilled attorney may be able to convince the prosecutor to be more lenient if the property is returned undamaged or if you returned the property soon after discovering that it did not belong to you. Thismay help to reduce or eliminate the charges you face.
  • Intoxication: theft is an intent based crime. If you were very drunk or otherwise intoxicated your attorney may raise that fact as part of your defense. Perhaps your intoxication led you to accidentally take the property of another. It is logical that if you were too drunk to form the intent to steal, your lawyer may be able to argue that your lack of intent negated the legal requirement that you intended to commit theft.

It is not certain that any defense or combination of defenses can guarantee a particular outcome in your case. However, a skilled criminal attorney will be able to advise you about the necessary steps to reduce, mitigate or eliminate the charges you are facing. Call Portland Defender today for a free evaluation of your case! (503) 592-0606.

Portland Defender PC

2117 NE Oregon St. Suite 503
Portland, Oregon 97232

Phone: (503) 592-0606

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