A conviction for Theft can have many negative impacts on a person’s life. A conviction in Washington on theft charges, even when the amount of money is small, can have long-term effects on your life. Having this type of charge on your record can cause difficulties gaining employment in certain career fields, obtaining housing, and participating in volunteer activities at your child’s school or with their youth sports teams. You could face jail or prison time, and be ordered to pay thousands of dollars in restitution and fines.
There are 3 levels of Theft in Washington under the State statute (RCW 9A.56):
- Theft in the First Degree is a Class B Felony, based on a dollar amount of over $5,000
- Theft in the Second Degree is a Class C Felony, based on a dollar amount between $750-$5,000
- Theft in the Third Degree is a Gross Misdemeanor, based on a dollar amount under $750. Also called petty theft, most shoplifting cases are filed as Theft in the 3rd degree.
Theft charges in Washington can be brought for merely possessing property that was stolen, even if the person charged was not involved in taking the property. A charge of theft can also bring with it a civil action for recovery of money or property alleged to be taken, making it critical that you have an experienced attorney to handle both aspects of any theft charge.
Every case is different, and judges hand out widely different sentences depending on the facts surrounding theft cases, especially minor theft cases involving shoplifting. Depending on the facts and circumstances, it may be possible for your lawyer to resolve a Theft case without a criminal conviction. Often, an experienced attorney can negotiate a settlement to make the victim whole through compensation for their loss in order to prevent a theft conviction from appearing on your record.
Many theft cases can be resolved through negotiation with the other party involved, but it is important to have an experienced attorney present during all stages. Call our office today to discuss any Washington theft charges, even shoplifting, before agreeing to any deal that could jeopardize your future freedom, employment or housing.