Opelika Theft Defense Attorneys
If you’re charged with theft in Alabama, it means the state believes that you deprived an individual or organization of money or property that rightfully belonged to them. This can happen in several ways, including through deceit, force, and receiving stolen property. While it’s stressful to face such a charge, keep in mind that the prosecution must prove you had no valid claim to the money or property. It is also possible that you could have been set up by someone else to appear guilty of theft when you’re not.
At Alsobrook Law Group, we explore all possible defenses while aggressively challenging the prosecution to prove its case against you. We also ensure that you understand the charges and possible consequences before your case comes up in court.
Degrees and Legal Consequences of Theft in Alabama
Alabama, like most states, classifies theft charges according to the value of the stolen property and the circumstances associated with the theft. In some cases, the type of property taken determines the degree of the theft charge and the legal punishment to follow. The degrees of theft include:
- First degree: The prosecution will charge you with first degree theft if the value of the property is $2,500 or greater. First degree theft is a Class B felony. Additionally, some types of stolen property or circumstances in a theft case automatically carry a charge of first degree theft, regardless of the value of the item. Examples include theft of any automobile or property taken directly from another person. As a Class B felony, a conviction for first degree theft can mean a jail sentence ranging from two to 20 years. You could also receive a fine up to $30,000.
- Second degree: This classification is for stolen property valued between $500 and $2,500. It is also a Class C felony. As with first degree theft, certain types of property automatically qualify for sentencing under Class C felony guidelines. These include most controlled substances, credit cards, debit cards, firearms, and livestock. If convicted of second degree theft, you face a prison sentence of 366 days to 10 years. The maximum fine a judge can assess you is $15,000.
- Third degree: Third degree theft describes those crimes in which the value of the stolen property is less than $500. It falls under the classification of Class A misdemeanor, which means a maximum sentence of one year in prison. If convicted, the judge may also require you to pay a fine of up to $6,000.
Previous Convictions and Civil Penalties for Alabama Theft Offenses
Alabama imposes stronger penalties against those who already have a Class B or Class C felony conviction. Should you receive a second conviction for theft, the state automatically charges you with second degree theft if the value of the property in question falls between $250 and $2,500. You would then be subject to the penalties of second degree theft, which include up to 10 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
If convicted of a shoplifting offense, you may be subject to civil penalties in addition to criminal penalties. These include:
- Reimbursement to the store owner of up to $1,000 for his or her reasonable court costs to bring a civil action against you, as well as attorney fees
- Reimbursement to the store owner for the full retail value of the stolen merchandise if he or she can no longer sell it
- Reimbursement to the store owner for expenses he or she incurred trying to recover the stolen property, which cannot exceed $200
Other Classifications of Theft Offenses in Alabama
Theft is not always as straightforward as it sounds. In addition to unlawfully taking property belonging to someone else or receiving stolen property, the state considers the following to be theft as well:
- Engaging in activity to make electricity, gas, or water available to self or others without paying for it
- Theft of property reported as lost
- Obscuring a vehicle’s identity to prevent the lawful owner or police from recognizing it
- Theft of professional services
- Breaking and entering a vehicle belonging to someone else
- Driving a vehicle without the permission of the owner
- Theft of trade secrets or products protected by a trademark
- Use of cable television services without payment
- Theft committed via computer
- Theft of any telecommunications device
Depending on the value of the stolen property or service, your prior record, and circumstances involved in the crime, you may face a charge of first degree, second degree, or third degree theft for any of the above classifications. You have the right to speak to a lawyer immediately after your arrest and do not have to answer any questions that could incriminate you. It’s in your best interest to obtain qualified legal representation as soon as possible since the prosecution will already be building its case against you.
What Are Sentencing Factors in Alabama Theft Cases?
Alabama courts review a variety of factors when determining where in the sentencing range someone might fall. The state has a habitual offender statute that permits judges to enhance punishment for someone that has a prior criminal history.
If you are arrested for a theft charge, there is also the chance that an experienced Alabama theft lawyer will be able to achieve a dismissal of charges, have your charges reduced, or get a pre-trial diversion program approved. Typically, people who are missing property would like for it to be returned, so there may be an option to negotiate this as part of a positive case outcome.
Request Your Free and Confidential Case Review Today
When you’re looking at the loss of your freedom for up to 20 years, you can’t afford to gamble by hiring an inexperienced lawyer or trying to represent yourself. The skilled Alabama criminal defense attorneys at Alsobrook Law Group have many years of experience representing people in the same position you find yourself in now.
As your criminal defense attorney, Mr. Alsobrook works for you. That means doing what is necessary to secure the best possible outcome, which could include counseling you to accept a plea bargain, reduced charges, or dropped charges. You are innocent until proven guilty, and your attorney will work hard to make the prosecution prove its case with irrefutable evidence.
We encourage you to contact our office in Opelika, Alabama to request your consultation today. Our lawyers do not charge for this initial appointment and keep everything you tell us in the strictest confidence. You may also request a consultation via our online form. If you’re unable to make it to our office, we would be happy to meet with you in another location.
We also provide theft defense in Auburn, Alabama.