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Washington DC Theft Attorney

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According to D.C. Code Section 22-3211, theft occurs in the District of Columbia when an individual wrongly obtains or uses the property of another.  The term “wrongly obtains or uses” involves the following:

  • Obtaining property or items by deception, false pretenses, tampering, trick or larceny
  • Making an unauthorized transfer of an interest in, use, or disposition of property
  • Exercising or taking control over property

A theft crime involves intent. This means to purposely deprive another of the right to property or the benefit of it. Intent also involves the individual taking the property for his or her own use or the use for another person. If you’ve been charged with a theft crime in the District of Columbia, you want to contact a DC Theft lawyer.

Type of Theft Crime Charges

Shoplifting

For a person to be guilty of shoplifting he or she must violate D.C. Code section 22-3213. A person commits a shoplifting offense if he or she has the intent to take property without paying. The property must be considered property of another. Also, the personal property must be offered for sale. If it is not for sale, there must be an intent to defraud the owner of the value of the property.

To be guilty of shoplifting, he or she must purposely commit the act. This involves:

  • Knowingly concealing or taking possession of property.
  • Knowingly altering or removing the price tag, identification number or serial number from the property.
  • Knowingly transferring property from a container where it is displayed or packaged in a display case or sales package.

Unauthorized use of motor vehicles

It is illegal to use a motor vehicle without permission according to D.C. Code section 22-3215. The law defines using the vehicle without the consent of the owner as auto theft.

Taking Property without a Right

D.C. Code section 22-3216 refers to taking property without a right. Violating this law involves taking someone’s belongings or property and carrying it away. This section, however, does not cover commercial owners like a grocery store.

If you are accused of any type of theft crimes like commercial piracy, armed robberycarjackingburglary, or joyriding, contact a DC Theft lawyer immediately. Penalties for these types of theft crimes vary. For instance a commercial piracy conviction is punishable by 180 days and/or a $1,000 fine.

Possible Penalties for Theft Crimes

Theft penalties depend on the offense. For instance, a theft in the first degree can be a felony and therefore carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and/or $5,000. This pertains to charges where the value of the property taken was valued at $1,000 or more.

Theft in the second degree carries a sentence of up to 180 days in jail and/or $1,000. If you have 2 or more prior theft convictions, regardless of the degree, you face up to 10 years in prison and are required to serve at least 1 year incarcerated. Also, you may be faced with paying a fine of $5,000.

A shoplifting conviction carries up to 90 days in jail and/or a $300 fine.

The penalty for the unauthorized use of a vehicle is up to 10 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 in fines. If the unauthorized use resulted in bodily injury of others, you face a mandatory five years in prison. The sentence is to be served consecutively based on the number of people injured.

The sentence increases based on the number of convictions you have for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. If you have two or more priors, it is a sentence of 15 years in prison and/or a $15,000 fine.

The sentence for taking property without having the right to do so is up to 90 days in jail and/or a $300 fine.

DC Theft Defense

Theft carries steep penalties if convicted, but if you’ve just been charged you have time to fight the case. Seek the help of a DC Theft lawyer to fight any theft or theft charges you’re facing.

Your DC Theft lawyer will look at the evidence and challenge the government’s case against you to possibly get your charges dismissed. In certain situations, your lawyer may be able to negotiate a diversion agreement with your prosecutor that would allow you to complete community service in exchange for the dismissal of your case.

Other types of defenses include mistaken identification, accidental takings, and claims of rightful ownership. A claim of rightful ownership usually happens when a person takes property he honestly believed he owned. To learn more about the proper theft defense best for your case, contact a DC theft lawyer.

Shawn Sukumar in His Own Words

Below is a link to a question-and-answer page excerpted from an interview in which Shawn Sukumar discusses theft offenses in Washington, DC and our approach.

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