Theft in the First Degree(9A.56.030):
Washington State law defines Theft in the 1st Degree as the theft of property or services with a value of over $5,000 or the theft of property of any value when taken from the person of another.
Theft 1st Degree is a Class B Felony which is punishable by up to a maximum of 10 years in jail and/or a $20,000 fine. In reality, the penalties that would be imposed in the event of a conviction for a theft crime are determined by the Sentencing Reform Act, RCW 9.94A and the Washington State Sentencing Guidelines.
Theft in the Second Degree (9A.56.040):
Washington State law defines Theft in the 2nd Degree as the theft of property or services with a value of over $750 and up to $5,000, or the theft of a public record, writing, or instrument kept, filed, or deposited according to law with or in the keeping of any public office or public servant; or the theft of an access device.
Theft 2nd Degree is a Class C Felony which is punishable by up to a maximum of 5 years in jail and/or a $10,000 fine. In reality, the penalties that would be imposed in the event of a conviction for a theft crime are determined by the Sentencing Reform Act, RCW 9.94A and the Washington State Sentencing Guidelines.
Theft in the Third Degree (shoplifting):
Theft in the 3rd Degree, or Shoplifting, in Washington State is defined as the theft of up to $750. Under Washington State law, ”theft” means to wrongfully obtain or exert unauthorized control over the property or services of another or the value thereof, with intent to deprive him or her of such property or services. RCW 9A.56.020
Shoplifting generally occurs in a commercial setting where a Loss Prevention Officer for a retail company believes they observe someone stealing their merchandise. The Loss Prevention Officer then stops the suspect and escorts them to a back office where they perform a search of the suspect in an attempt to recover their lost merchandise. They often require the suspect to sign a statement and a promise to never return to the location again. In some cases the police are called and respond immediately, however, often times the police never actually respond, and the suspect is released with nothing more than a suggestion that the courts will be in contact with them in the near future.
In almost all cases, the Courts do send the suspect a summons to appear for an arraignment, where they will be officially charged with Theft in the 3rd Degree.
Theft in the 3rd Degree is a Gross Misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 364 days in jail and up to a $5,000 fine. A conviction for any theft crime can have very serious implications when applying for employment, education and a change in immigration status.
How Can a Lawyer Help?
There are many ways to fight a Theft 3 Shoplifting charge in Washington State. From fighting the facts at trial to strategizing creative alternatives to achieve a dismissal, it is of the utmost importance to find an attorney who has experience fighting theft crimes.
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