Theft and Fraud
Theft and fraud charges cross all spectrums of age and class: young and old, rich and poor. This area of law covers everything from shoplifting to white collar embezzlement. Whether you are facing a simple misdemeanor or highly complex felony charges, you will need an experienced criminal defense attorney who will navigate this often-complex area of law and stand up for you before judges and prosecutors.
Understanding Your Theft or Fraud Charges
Theft and fraud claims take many different forms. Before you can know what to expect at court, you need to understand the charges against you. Most crimes in this category include taking someone else’s property by force, fraud, or trick. What is taken, who it is taken from, how it was taken, and how much it is worth determine the type of criminal charge you might face and the possible defenses to that charge. Depending on the circumstances, you could be charged with:
- Breaking and Entering
- Checks Without Sufficient Funds
- False Pretenses/Representation
- Home Invasion
- Receiving Stolen Property
- Retail Fraud
- Uttering & Publishing
- Welfare fraud
Some theft and fraud charges can be charged in various degrees, depending on the value of the item(s) taken. For example, shoplifting a pair of shoes might be charged as Retail Fraud, 3rd Degree if the shoes are worth less than $200. As the value goes up, so does the penalty. Retail Fraud, 2nd Degree applies to total values between $200 and $1,000, and Retail Fraud, 1st Degree – a felony charge – applies to values above $1,000.
Possible Consequences of a Fraud or Theft Conviction
Each fraud or theft crime comes with different maximum penalties. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you could face a combination of up to 90 days or 1 year in jail, a term of probation, fines and costs, and community service. In felony cases, there is a risk of prison time as well. A felony conviction can also affect your ability to get a job, enroll in the military, and obtain a concealed weapons permit.
Most fraud and theft offenses also involve restitution; the person convicted must pay back the value of the items taken or damage done during the taking. For example, a conviction for breaking and entering a home could also result in a court order to pay back the fair value of every item taken from the home as well as the cost of repairing a broken door or window, replacing locks, and cleaning up any mess made during the theft or the ensuing police investigation.
Defending Against Theft & Fraud Claims
While all of the above theft and fraud charges come with different penalties, they also each require different defense strategies. The prosecuting attorney must prove specific elements defined by statute for a conviction. If just one element is weak or missing, a skilled criminal defense attorney can use that legal leverage to prove you are not guilty.
Not every criminal case needs to go all the way to trial. When you are facing a minor misdemeanor, a plea can lead to a quicker resolution and you may even completely avoid jail time. With more serious felony charges, your case may require a more in-depth defense to protect your liberty and your rights. In defending you against allegations of theft or fraud, our attorneys will keep your unique needs and priorities in mind, giving you sound advice on your chance for success at trial and the pros and cons of optional plea deals, and what each means for you and your future.
Contact us to schedule your free consultation with an experienced theft and fraud defense attorney to help you better understand the technical details of your case, explore possible defenses strategies, and who will be your strongest advocate before Southwest Michigan’s prosecutors, judges, and juries.
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