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Consequences of Theft in Annapolis

Theft is the taking of property that belongs to another without their consent. These are the basic elements of what the government must prove in a theft case. If these elements are met and the person is convicted, that individual may face potentially serious consequences. When a person is charged with theft it is crucial for them to work with an Annapolis theft attorney to combat their charges, and hopefully prevent or at least mitigate the potential penalties.

Possible Consequences

The consequences of theft charges may include a period of incarceration or extensive amounts of probation where a person might be ordered to have special conditions like completing community service, paying restitution, and things of that nature. There could be collateral consequences in certain felony situations such as not being allowed to hold certain licenses or have the ability to vote. In other situations that are both felony and misdemeanor-related, consequences could include not being able to take advantage of certain social services like student loans, or being able to apply for certain jobs because the crimes are considered crimes of moral turpitude and thus have a negative effect on the public perception of a person’s character.

The harshest penalty a person might experience is a period of incarceration. Theft is a non-violent criminal offense so people should not expect to be facing jail time when it comes to theft-related charges. However, jail time is a very realistic possibility if a person has a lengthy criminal record, or the nature of the offense is so serious that it involves a large amount of money, a felonious scheme, or taking advantage of somebody in a vulnerable position. Those are the kinds of situations that exacerbate a criminal case and potentially cause it to be more serious in nature.

For Felony Charges

Felony theft charges are considered very serious because they involve large dollar amounts with consequences that could include periods of incarceration, extensive amounts of probation, and payments of restitution. There are also collateral consequences like potential loss of ability to hold certain licenses, certain jobs, being able to apply for certain kinds of loans, and perhaps losing the ability to vote.

Effect of Prior Criminal Convictions

Prior criminal convictions affect the person charged with theft because the convictions may enhance the person’s penalties in their particular theft case. If a person is charged with and convicted of a theft-related offense, one of the first things the prosecutor and judge look at is the person’s criminal history to determine whether or not the person belongs in jail. People with lengthy histories of theft likely face more serious consequences with a new theft conviction than if they did not have any priors for theft-related offenses.

Probation or Reduced Sentence Options

Reduced sentence options on theft charges potentially reduce a felony theft to a misdemeanor theft, or a misdemeanor theft to a less serious misdemeanor theft. For example, a theft under $1,000 may be reduced to a theft under $100. Those are options in certain cases and if the prosecutor feels that it is appropriate or they are aware of weaknesses in their case, they might consider making those kinds of offers on the case to the defense.

Additionally, there are options for probation in almost every theft case, particularly when trying to negotiate whether jail time is appropriate in a particular case. A judge may consider probation as an alternative to a period of incarceration in the case.

On the other side, there are also options for diversion in cases. When a person is charged for the first time with a misdemeanor theft, many prosecutors consider diversion. That means no criminal prosecution of the case in exchange for the person completing certain conditions like community service, or the promise that they will not get themselves in any additional trouble. In that case the prosecutor may dismiss the charges, throw the case out completely, and it will be as if the charges never actually even took place.