Theft charges are a serious matter in the State of Virginia. This is why it is highly recommended that anyone charged with theft contact a local Richmond theft attorney. Local counsel will know the laws surrounding the charge much better than other attorneys. This means that they will also be able to represent you in court better, which can only be of benefit to you. A local attorney will be able to anticipate the strategies and questions the prosecution will come up with as well, which leads to a stronger defense.
If you contact an attorney regarding theft charges, the attorney will need to know a number of things. First, they will want to know the facts of the case, in other words, exactly what happened that you found yourself arrested. Second, they will want to know what items were stolen and the value of those items. Lastly, they will want to know about any criminal record that you may have and any substance abuse or mental issues you may be dealing with.
A person charged with theft in Richmond should hire an attorney for several reasons. A petit larceny charge or shoplifting charge can result in a criminal conviction, which a Class 1 misdemeanor and can have significant impact on your job or your job search. In addition, a larceny conviction is considered a crime of moral turpitude, so if you are applying for a job, for instance with a bank or with a financial institution, it can have a significant impact on your ability to get employment.
Our office has attorneys that are experienced in handling theft charges. We have handled grand larceny charges dealing with hundreds of thousands of dollars as well as petit theft charges as minor as $10. We have a great deal of experience dealing with theft charges in Richmond and other jurisdictions, as well.
An experienced Richmond theft attorney is going to examine the evidence and determine the strength of the prosecution’s case. The attorney will also try to negotiate with the prosecutors to help mitigate any punishment, and possibly have the charge amended to with less of an impact. The lawyer will explore possible alternative sentencing.
A prosecutor has to show that you took property that did not belong to you and that you took it with the intent to deprive another of the use of that property. This could be done by sticking something in your pocket and walking out of the store to breaking into someone’s house.
The initial steps a Richmond theft attorney will take when preparing a defense is to speak with the defendant or the person charged to find out exactly what occurred, what statements were made to the Richmond police, if any, and what was allegedly stolen as well as the value of those items.
Next, they want to know about any prior criminal history which can greatly impact a larceny charge. Additionally, they want to find out if there is any underlying issue like substance abuse, mental instability, or any life crisis that the attorney can raise as a mitigating issue. Lastly, the attorney will want to speak with the prosecutors about any possible negotiations.
In theft cases, a lawyer will want to obtain evidence about what was stolen. Any videos that may have recorded the incident or any audio statements that were recorded will be evidence a theft lawyer will want to have. They will also want any written statements that were made.
Experts can help raise a strong defense, for example, about possible video footage that is used, especially if there are issues with it or if it is questionable. In addition, experts in mental or psychological issues that you may be dealing with that may have contributed to the issue can help with the defense.
Basically, if a client has a first offense charge, a Richmond theft attorney can try to work out alternative sentencing. Sometimes this can result in what is referred to as a first offender program which, according to Virginia Code § 18.2-251, could be doing community service, staying out of trouble, or possibly take a shoplifting class. Typically, the matter will be dismissed after six months.
Sometimes attorneys are able to get the charge amended to trespassing or disorderly conduct, for example, in exchange for community service hours. While the conviction still exists, it would not be a conviction for a crime with moral turpitude so it does not affect the person as much as some other charges.
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