Springfield Theft Lawyer
When someone is facing theft charges, they may not know how to handle their case. There are a variety of factors that go into building a defense case for theft. There are several different types of theft offenses under Springfield law.
If you are facing theft charges, it is essential that you speak with an experienced Springfield theft lawyer. Through reviewing the evidence and building a defense, there are several benefits to contacting a local defense attorney.
Types of Theft Offenses
Under Virginia state law, there are several different types of offenses that are considered theft. The Virginia legislature categorizes theft offenses as larcenies. Common charges include:
- Identity theft – Virginia Code §18.2-186.3 – punishes those who allegedly obtain identifying information, money or financial instruments, records, or other related documents without the authorization of the information’s owner, with the intention to sell or distribute to another. Losses over $500 are considered felonies under this section of the code.
- Grand larceny – Virginia Code §18.2-95 – any larceny from the person over $5, or not from the person over $500, or any firearm
- Grand theft auto – Falls under “grand larceny” category of theft offenses as a result of the value of the car; penalties under Virginia Code §18.2-95 include incarceration up to 20 years in prison and additional loss of license penalties
- Embezzlement – Virginia Code §18.2-111 – the wrongful taking of money or property while the defendant was entrusted to possess said money or property (seriousness of crime charged depends on value of item allegedly embezzled)
Elements of a Theft Conviction
The criminal offense that constitutes “theft” requires certain elements be proven by the prosecutor in order to maintain the conviction. The prosecutor is responsible for proving “mens rea” and “actus reus”. These Latin terms form the basis for defining most criminal offenses in the criminal justice system.
The “mens rea” refers to the defendant’s mental status at the time of the criminal offense. For instance, the legislature may require that a defendant intend on committing an offense, or intend the consequences of his action (which constitute an offense).
This avoids punishing individuals acting under duress (coercion by another) or by involuntary act (like trespassing while sleepwalking). However, in many larceny offenses, the mens rea may be satisfied using inferences based on the conduct of the accused. Ask an experienced Springfield theft lawyer to explain this distinction to you in more detail.
The “actus reus” element refers to the overt act, or specific conduct taken by the individual.
In order to prevent a conviction for larceny in Virginia, a defense attorney may be able to discuss the possibility of negating an element of the criminal offense. If the prosecutor is unable to satisfy the burden of proof in the case, then the case may be dismissed. The burden of proof in criminal cases is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The elements of the larceny offense in Virginia include
- The taking of an item (including money, goods, chattels, most “things of value”)
- The value of the item exceeds $5 (from the person) or $500 (not from the person)
- Without the owner’s consent (the owner did not permit the defendant to take the item in question)
- The defendant intended on permanently depriving the owner of the property (not temporary)
Contact a Springfield Theft Attorney
A criminal conviction for a theft offense can lead to fines, penalties, restitution payments, jail or prison time, probation, community service, or dismissal. Depending on the crime allegedly committed, the mere mention of an arrest or charge of an offense could disrupt an individual’s home or work life. The stigma of a possible conviction is sometimes just as damaging as the conviction itself.
Consider hiring a personal defense attorney to begin working for you right away. Relying on a government-appointed attorney may be risky because these attorneys are often required to defend a huge number of cases, preventing them from devoting the time necessary to investigate, defend, and try your case. If you have been charged with a theft offense, contact a Springfield theft lawyer now for more information.