Theft might seem like a straightforward crime. Taking something that doesn’t belong to you is against the law and can land you in hot water. But even a crime like theft can present a complicated series of issues that make one case totally different from the next. Every situation is unique. Your defense needs to be handled with the utmost care to ensure that you don’t end up in much more trouble than you deserve.
Under Arkansas law, theft of property can be a Class B, C, or D felony, or it can be a Class A misdemeanor. The penalties associated with these charges vary widely, so it is vital that your lawyers understand the evidence in your case, as well as the law. There are factors that can change what would have been a misdemeanor into a felony. Some of these factors are subjective and so must be handled with care and attention to protect your rights.
The elements of the crime of theft must be established by the prosecution in order for them to obtain a conviction. To prevent that, your defense should draw attention to the weakest points of the case against you. When it comes to theft and other property crimes, here are a few of the areas that should be considered.
What is the value of the property at issue?
Establishing the value of stolen goods can be difficult. If the stolen property is cash, the issue is simple. If the object was a painting from an up-and-coming local artist, value can be harder to ascertain. The Arkansas code says that it is a Class B felony to take property valued at $25,000 or more. Class C felony charges are for property worth less than $25,000 but more than $5,000. Class D is for property valued from $5,000 to $1,000. Finally, the Class A misdemeanor charges are for theft of property worth $1,000 or less. The value of the property matters, but it is not the only element in choosing which charge to apply.
How the property was obtained
Even if the property taken was not highly valuable, you can be charged with a Class B felony if it was obtained by the threat of serious physical injury to any person or destruction of the occupiable structure of another person. Class C felony charges can be leveled if the property was obtained by threat. There are further exceptions involving circumstances like theft of livestock valued at more than $200 (Class D felony) and theft of building material worth $500 or more from a permitted construction site. Again, the exact circumstances of each case can have a dramatic impact on the penalties that could follow a criminal conviction.
Criminal charges are a serious problem. If you’ve been charged with theft or a related crime, you can’t afford to make mistakes. You need an Arkansas criminal defense attorney to protect your rights as soon as possible.