Grand Theft Lawyer in San Diego, CA
Grand theft is a crime with serious consequences. The crime of stealing from others, either property or money, starts out as a misdemeanor but when accomplished on the grand scale it is a felony offense. If you’re facing these charges you need a grand theft lawyer. Depending on the state the amount required for theft to be considered grand theft varies. Typically, the qualifying amount for grand theft ranges from $500 to $1,000. In some areas, grand theft is recognized under the title of grand larceny. This is common for legal terms to change while their meaning stays the same.
Another issue that comes with theft is that it usually isn’t the only charge the accused is facing. A grand theft defense lawyer should also have experience in the robbery, embezzlement, and similar white-collar crimes.
Finding a Grand Theft Lawyer
A grand theft lawyer can help you throughout the legal process and your court proceedings to ensure that your side is fairly heard and defended. Grand theft defense lawyers understand what the prosecution has to prove and what opportunities are available to you.
While grand theft is a felony a grand theft attorney may seek reduced charges. In a typical case, the charge of grand theft is split into various degrees. Fist degree grand theft is usually reserved for theft allegations exceeding $50,000. Second-degree grand theft typically ranges in property value or monetary loss of $3,000 to $50,000. Finally, third degree is the lowest degree of grand theft which usually ranges from $500 to $3,000. Keep in mind these dollars amount varies by area, so you could experience more or less harsh state laws.
Overall the use of the term theft covers a wide variety of crimes not counting for property which was taken from the victim. If you’re facing a grand theft charge it is best to contact a grand theft lawyer as soon as possible so you can begin working on a strong defense together. Because these occur in the criminal justice system which can work notoriously fast, the sooner you contact a grand theft attorney the better.
What Could Happen Because of a Grand Theft
Because grand theft is a felony, you could face felony sentences. This includes jail time, restitution fees and other downfalls that come with felony crimes. Losing the ability to vote or obtain a firearm without extreme difficulty are both side effects if you are found guilty of any felony charge. It could also affect your ability to find or sustain employment in a number of states. Although you may have served out your time and paid restitution, there is no guarantee that an employer won’t run a background check and decide to not hire based on those results.
These consequences are severe and that is why a grand theft lawyer will often attempt to have charges reduced to a misdemeanor especially for first-time offenders. Working with your attorney is a primary aspect of a successful defense. This system works on many levels. If you provide your attorney with the evidence available to aid any necessary investigation the process of resolving this charge can go over quickly. There is no doubt that you want this issue fixed as soon as possible.
How a Prosecutor Proves Theft
When charged with grand theft there are four requirements a prosecutor must prove without a shadow of a doubt before a judge and jury. These four compiles together to lay out the framework of proving grand theft without a shadow of a doubt. As this is taken through the criminal justice system there is little room for error on the prosecutor’s part.
First, the prosecutor must show that the accused took possession of property that is owned by another person. This is where many grand theft cases become “he said, she said” since little other than cars or houses has a long-term receipt for the owner.
Secondly, the prosecution must show that they did not permit the accused, permanently or temporarily, to come into possession of the item.
Thirdly, that the defendant took property, had the intent to take it either permanently or for a significant amount of time.
Finally, the prosecution has to show that the defendant moved the property with the intent of keeping it. The movement doesn’t have to span a big distance. Most often the prosecution is showing that the property moved from one garage to another. Usually, the distance is small many grand theft cases are charged against those who are local to the region.
Defenses to Felony Theft
Any defense will rely on a blend of evidence, and witness testimony. Grand theft lawyers can work closely with detectives to ensure that you avoid making incriminating, or further incriminating, statements to the police. They are also responsible for building your defense around witness testimony while the memories are fresh. Grand theft lawyers are also notorious for seeking out evidence from local businesses for video surveillance and recordings. The best defense is to show that you weren’t in the vicinity when the item was stolen or that you were gone from the area for hours during the window that the theft was most likely to take place.
Many people charged with grand theft are innocent, they seek out the assistance of a grand theft defense lawyer to explore their options. Overall there are 6 common defenses against false accusations of grand theft. Each offers a unique twist on the situation for grand theft and how you are or are not tied to it. These range from not understanding the law to the outright defense of “I didn’t do it”. More on each is explored here:
Mistake of Fact
This is no doubt the most common defense and in truth the most common issue behind grand theft charges. The mistake of fact is when a person did not understand an aspect, or fact, that gave rise to the crime. One example is that the accused person believed without a doubt that the item or money taken was rightfully theirs.
However, this defense can raise difficulties for a grand theft defense lawyer, because of the burden of proving that the mistake was honest and reasonable. The requirements of honesty and reason can cause issues in showing this to a jury. Often the prosecution will attempt to paint the accused as a thief, seizing opportunity wherever it presents itself. But, a grand theft lawyer understands what it takes to the diver that image. The defense is required for the jury and judge to believe that this mistake was honest and reasonable.
Another common matter of fact defenses is that the property is actually yours. Allowing a friend or neighbor to borrow expensive appliances or equipment turns into they believe it is theirs. Now you have a drug out legal process between friends or family. In these cases, it may be as easy as showing photos of the appliance or equipment in your home before this case was initiated.
Grand theft is subject to many areas of misunderstanding which comes with any case concerning property and possession. The mistake of fact is just one instance of misunderstanding resulting in extreme legal problems for the defendant. The difficult part for most people is that the simple misunderstanding uprooted their life for months and probably led to many damaged relationships if there were friends or family involved.
Mistake of Law
A mistake of law is when a defendant did not know or was confused on the law and how it applied to this situation. Although it’s a common saying “Ignorance is no excuse from the law” there are several circumstances which do offer some wiggle room. The opportunity for using mistake of law as a defense only works within a very limited situation and is treated on a case by case basis. This is a go-to for many weird traffic laws but can also work in some grand theft situations. An example is when a neighbor leaves the appliance on the curb, then a person picks it up believing it to be trash. Afterward, this person faces theft charges. The person who picked up the discarded appliance didn’t know that you can’t take someone’s discarded items.
A mistake of the law can work in these situations:
- The defendant was reliant on an interpretation, by an official interpreter, and did not understand the law.
- The defendant was reliant on a judicial decision and this decision was overruled following.
- The defendant was aware and acting within a law or statute that was determined unconstitutional or overturned.
- The law was not published
All these situations must appear as a reasonable scenario to both a judge and jury. Although it isn’t reasonable that a lawsuit from 50 years ago is what the defendant thought was acceptable, a ruling from 5 or 10 years ago is reasonable. A grand theft defense lawyer can work with you to understand what you believed was within the extent of the law and what was not.
The final not on Mistake of Law is that any interpretation must be from an official such as a judge or representative of a federal or state agency. This does not include the interpretation of any law from a private attorney. Mistake of Law not including counsel from private attorneys is one more reason it’s important to ensure your grand theft defense lawyer is well versed in the law their advising you on.
Wrongful conviction is a legitimate fear and if you know that you didn’t commit the crime, you may experience mistaken identity. Mistaken identity doesn’t question whether the crime itself was committed or not. However, working with a grand theft attorney you can explain your situation to a judge and jury.
While no judge is a stranger to the “it wasn’t me” defense, mistaken identity is a real issue. Many people are exonerated after years spent in jail because of a line-up misidentification. Particularly if you were identified through a line-up or by an alleged witness. Discounting witness testimony is difficult to watch. However, proving your innocence in a case of mistaken identity is imperative to the rest of your life. One famous study that is commonly used to discount witness testimony is of subjects watching a car accident. Afterward, the subjects were asked a series of questions to provide estimations on the speed of the cars at the time of impact. Some subjects were asked to estimate the speed of the cars when they “hit each other” while others had the same question asked but phrased as “smashed into each other”. This study showed that by simply changing the word from “hit” to “smashed” subjects remembered the cars moving at a faster rate. This isn’t limited to car accidents. A police officer asking, “How tall was he?” versus “What was his height?” can also have a detrimental effect.
The first step in correcting mistaken identity is to undermine the evidence which is currently working against you. These are most often witnesses. It is easy to show that witnesses aren’t credible either due to stress, bad visual environment, or similar situations. A common start to a mistaken identity defense is identifying that there are multiple people by the same name, who fit the same description or living in the same residence. If the police found evidence in a common area of a residence it is easy to acknowledge that you are not the only one using that living space. Just as you cannot be held responsible for fitting a vague description.
Return of the Property
Although the return of stolen property is not a viable defense, showing you had the intent to return the property from the time you took it, is a defense. Many judges have heard the “I borrowed it” defense before. However, proving it is not so difficult. There is a variety of examples of evidence you can use to support this defense.
A grand theft lawyer may ask for your phone records to show that through text messages, email, or voicemails there was intent to return the item prior to it being stolen. Many times, defendants find themselves the victim of a form of entrapment. In the instance of a friend, neighbor, or family member offering to allow you to borrow expensive equipment and then reports it missing. This is unfair and if this is the case you can seek compensation for such an allegation through the civil justice system when this case is over. Many grand theft attorneys can provide guidance on what steps could be best for you in this case.
This brings in a different type of struggle for a grand theft defense lawyer because there are usually family members or close friends involved. If you find yourself facing grand theft charges for possessing an item, you know you had a borrower with intent to return contact a grand theft lawyer as soon as possible.
Lack of Intent
Part of the prosecution’s job in a grand theft charge is to prove that the defendant intended to deprive a person of their rightful property. Lack of intent is very similar to the mistake of fact defense. Showing that there was no intent to deprive another person of their property would essentially break down much of the prosecutor’s case. Working with a grand theft attorney can help you understand the difference between these two similar defenses and which is best for you.
Because grand theft is a criminal charge and processed in the criminal justice system the charges must show that the defendant is guilty only when there is no doubt. Juries are repeatedly asked to consider the facts of the case, in conjunction with any evidence and ask if the defendant, without a shadow of a doubt, committed these crimes. You grand theft attorney should work to provide not only the doubt needed, but significantly show there was no intent in this crime.
History of Theft
A history of theft or property related crimes can change how any argument of change is viewed. A grand theft defense lawyer will understand how your criminal past can affect your sentencing. Any defender’s criminal past can play a role in sentencing. Although first-time offenders can have significantly lighter sentences this is usually because a grand theft lawyer fought diligently for a lighter sentencing.
But, even a defendant with a completely unrelated criminal history can affect sentencing. If you are likely to see a guilty determination, work with your grand theft defense lawyer to build the potential for mitigating evidence. If you can combine sympathetic evidence to support mitigating circumstances the judge may go easier on your sentencing. The punishment must fit the crime, however, if you’re found guilty of grand theft and can show a situation mitigating circumstances the sentencing may be lighter. Some circumstances could be homelessness or being raised in an environment which condoned theft you may see a lighter sentencing.
Contact a Grand Theft Lawyer in San Diego, CA
These are serious charges to take on, and they won’t simply blow over. A grand theft defense lawyer is your best bet to seeing your way out of these charges. With proper legal assistance, you may see a number of different outcomes, all more favorable than a guilty determination. A grand theft lawyer is able to help you evaluate the prosecutor’s case, assess its strength, and identify the best course of action for you.