If you have been accused of taking another person’s money or property or unlawfully acquiring another person’s services without paying, you need to call a trusted and proven Seattle theft attorney as soon as possible. At Emerald City Law Group, our criminal defense lawyers located in the heart of Seattle are ready to take on your case, protect your rights, and fight for your freedom.
Few accusations can tarnish your reputation as quickly as being called a thief. Your employer, teachers, mentors, family members, and friends may all look at you differently. Long before you head to trial, you could be treated as if you are guilty and not trustworthy by those you thought knew you the best. Contact a Seattle theft attorney today at 206-973-0407 to learn more about your rights and legal options when facing theft allegations.
Theft Charges in Washington
In general, theft involves the unlawful taking of another person’s money or services. However, this can be done in various ways. Under the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 9A.56.020, theft specifically entails:
- Wrongfully obtaining or exerting unauthorized control over another person’s property or services with the intent to deprive that person of their property or services;
- Using deception to obtain control over another person’s property or services with the intent to deprive that person of their property or services; or
- Appropriating lost or misdelivered property or services that belong to another person with the intent to deprive that person of their property or services.
Degrees of Theft Under Washington Law
In addition to defining actions that constitute theft, various Washington statutes outline the degrees of theft offenses. Each degree of theft is a different misdemeanor or felony charge that has unique maximum punishments.
Based on RCW 9A.56.030, you can be charged with theft in the first degree if you commit a theft of:
- Property or services, other than a firearm, that are worth more than $5,000;
- Property of any value, other than a firearm or vehicle, taken from a person;
- A search and rescue dog while the animal is on duty; or
- Commercial metal property, non-ferrous metal property, or private metal property and the damage exceeds $5,000.
RCW 9A.56.040 outlines theft in the second degree. You can be convicted of this crime if you steal:
- Property or services, other than a firearm or vehicle, valued between $750 and $5,000;
- A public record, writing, or instrument kept or filed according to the law with a public office;
- Commercial metal property, non-ferrous metal property, or private metal property and the damage exceeds $750, but is less than $5,000; or
- An access device.
You can be charged with theft in the third degree if, as defined by RCA 9A.56.060, you steal:
- Property or services worth less than $750; or
- Ten or more merchandise pallets, beverage crates, or a combination of these.
Seattle Theft of a Firearm or Vehicle
You will notice that theft of firearms and vehicles are handled different in Washington. RCW 9A.56.300 states you can charged with a Class B felony if you steal a firearm, no matter the firearm’s value. The same is true for vehicles. Under RCW 9A.56.065, if you are accused of stealing a vehicle, this is a Class B felony, and the value of the vehicle is irrelevant. Possession of a stolen vehicles or firearm will be treated just as harshly and also likely charged as a Class B felony.
Potential Statutory Penalties
The potential penalties you face for theft in Washington depend upon the level of the charge against you.
- First-degree theft is a Class B felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $50,000.
- Second-degree theft is a Class C felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and up to $10,000.
- Third-degree theft is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine up to $5,000.
You may also be sentenced to pay restitution to your victims, perform community service, and adhere to the strict rules of probation for a period of time. Community service and probation may be in addition to incarceration or an alternative punishment. If you were arrested for shoplifting, contact a Seattle theft attorney right away. We can work to minimize the consequences of a conviction, including fighting for you to avoid jail altogether through the use of restitution, community service, and probation.
Collateral Consequences for a Washington Theft Conviction
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor or felony theft offense, you may have to deal with many more consequences than the statutory punishments. A criminal conviction leads to a permanent criminal record, which can deeply impact various aspects of your professional and personal life. After being convicted of a theft offense, you may experience:
- Difficulty obtaining a job or advancing at work
- Difficulty getting accepted to a college or university
- Difficulty obtaining financial aid, including grants and scholarships
- Ineligibility for certain professional licenses
- Difficulty being approved for an apartment
- Difficulty obtaining a loan
- Modifications to your child custody or visitation rights in the other parent’s favor
- Effects on your immigration status, including the denial or revocation of a visa, permanent residency, or citizenship
- Inability to travel abroad, including to Canada
- Ineligibility to own or possess a firearm
A felony conviction is more likely to result in many of these consequences than if you were convicted of a gross misdemeanor. Felony convictions on your record can lead to a great deal of discrimination by admissions officers, employers, landlords, and loan officers. They can make it extremely difficult to move forward with your education, career, and family life.
Defending Against Theft Accusations in King County
Due to the harsh potential penalties and collateral consequences of a theft conviction, it is essential you hire an aggressive Seattle theft attorney as soon as possible. At Emerald City Law Group, we can conduct a thorough defense investigation regarding your case. This will enable us to gather evidence on your behalf and analyze the strongest defense strategies available under the law. Some potential defenses that may be available for your case include:
- Mistake of identity
- Consent of the property owner or service provider
- The prosecutor’s lack of evidence
Talk to a Seattle Theft Attorney Today
For legal representation, call one of our Seattle criminal defense attorneys or personal injury lawyers from Emerald City Law Group at 206-973-0407. We can discuss your specific case in a free initial consultation.
A skilled Seattle theft attorney will be put into contact with you in order to discuss your specific case in a free initial consultation.
A Seattle Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
No matter the charges or accusations – You deserve an aggressive defense.
When people are ill-prepared for the criminal justice system or take their situation too lightly, the consequences are often dire and in most cases, permanent. By working with a King County criminal defense lawyer from Emerald City Law Group, you can rely on a personalized and proactive approach to your case, so every issue is addressed and you obtain the best possible outcome.
If you have been charged with a crime in or around King County, Washington, Emerald City Law Group should be your next call. 206-973-0407