Theft Attorney: What You Need to Know About Stolen Property Charges and Defenses

Have you ever considered the complexities of theft and property crimes and the potential consequences they carry?

Theft crimes can levy a significant impact on your life, from legal penalties to a permanent criminal record. Understanding the legal definitions, classifications, and available defenses is crucial for anyone facing theft charges. In this insightful blog post, our team of dedicated and experienced legal experts at Soyars & Morgan Law will carefully guide you through the crucial aspects of theft and property crimes, the potential consequences, the defenses that are available, and the pivotal role that a knowledgeable theft and stolen property attorney plays in successfully navigating these complex issues.

Key Takeaways

  • Understand legal definitions and classifications of theft offenses

  • Be aware of potential consequences depending on the type of crime committed

  • Seek assistance from a criminal defense lawyer to build a strong case and protect rights

Understanding Theft and Property Crimes

A lawyer discussing a theft crime case with a client

Theft and property crimes involve taking another’s property without permission or intentionally damaging or vandalizing someone else’s property. These offenses can have severe consequences, including lengthy prison sentences, fines, and a permanent criminal record. Furthermore, the legal definitions and classifications of theft offenses are outlined under federal criminal law. Having a grasp on the myriad aspects of theft and property crimes is vital for your protection against potential penalties and repercussions.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer, through their deep legal knowledge, can provide valuable insight into potential aggravating factors that may significantly increase the severity of penalties after being accused of involvement with stolen property.

Additionally, they can assist in:

  • Raising doubts regarding the commission of the offense

  • Raising doubts regarding the value of the stolen goods

  • Affecting the amount of restitution that must be paid to the victims

Legal Definitions of Theft and Property Crimes

The legal definition of theft under criminal law is the act of taking another’s property without consent and with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property. Theft and property crimes encompass a broad range of offenses, including:

  • computer and intellectual property crimes

  • auto theft crimes

  • shoplifting

  • trespassing

  • arson

  • criminal mischief

The penalties associated with theft and property crimes can be severe, depending on the specific charges and circumstances. For example, theft of firearms may result in a long-term jail sentence of up to 10 years, and bank fraud may result in a fine of up to $1 million and 30 years of federal incarceration for each individual offense. For those facing theft charges, it becomes indispensable to comprehend the legal definitions and the potential ramifications of theft and property crimes.

Classification of Theft Offenses

Theft offenses can be classified as either misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the value of the stolen property and the presence of any aggravating factors as defined by federal law. Misdemeanor theft carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison. In contrast, felony theft may result in a sentence of multiple decades.

The various types of theft offenses include:

  • Larceny

  • Robbery

  • Shoplifting

  • Auto theft

  • Burglary

  • Embezzlement

  • Fraud

Anyone facing theft charges must comprehend the classifications of theft offenses and the potential repercussions each carries.

Consequences of Theft and Property Crimes 

A judge sentencing a person for a theft crime

The consequences of theft and property crimes can range from fines and probation to imprisonment. Factors such as the severity of the crime and the manner in which it was perpetrated can affect the penalties, as determined by the federal government. Consequently, understanding the possible consequences and penalties linked to theft and property crimes becomes crucial.

Some theft or property crimes may carry more severe penalties than others, depending on the presence of aggravating factors. For example, robbery can be classified as aggravated robbery if the victim was disabled, elderly, or if a weapon was used against them. Aggravated robbery carries more severe punishments than un-aggravated robbery. Therefore, anyone facing such charges must grasp the potential repercussions of theft and property crimes.

Factors Affecting Penalties

Several factors can contribute to the severity of penalties for theft or property crimes. These factors include the use of a weapon, the age or disability of the victim, and the stolen property’s value. Utilizing a weapon, for instance, can be seen as an aggravating factor, thus increasing the penalties for theft or property crimes and potentially leading to a permanent criminal record.

Similarly, the victim’s age or disability can be viewed as an aggravating factor, leading to an increase in the penalties for theft or property crimes, including petty theft. The value of the stolen property can also act as an aggravating factor, increasing penalties for theft or property crimes.

Consequently, it becomes vital for anyone facing such charges to comprehend the factors influencing the penalties for theft and property crimes.

Defending Against Theft Charges

A skilled attorney theft defending a client in court against theft charges

Defending against theft charges may involve presenting evidence of lack of intent, mistaken identity, or other mitigating factors. One of the most critical factors to consider when defending a theft charge is the lack of intent. Experienced criminal defense lawyers like our team at Soyars & Morgan Law can help build a strong case around this defense, ensuring that their clients receive the best possible outcome in their case.

In addition to lack of intent, defenses like mistaken identity might be considered in theft cases. An accomplished criminal defense attorney can assist their clients in avoiding harsh penalties and achieving a positive outcome by presenting evidence supporting these defenses in their theft case.

Lack of Intent

Lack of intent refers to the notion that the defendant did not consciously or deliberately perpetrate the offense. In theft cases, lack of intent may be utilized as a defense, as it can be argued that the defendant did not knowingly or intentionally commit the offense.

To secure a conviction of theft, the prosecution must demonstrate that the defendant acted knowingly and intentionally. If the defense can successfully argue that the defendant lacked intent, it may result in the dismissal of the charges or a not-guilty verdict.

Mistaken Identity

Mistaken identity occurs when a person is incorrectly identified as the perpetrator of a crime based on a misidentification. In theft cases, mistaken identity can be a viable defense if the defendant can provide evidence that they were not the person who committed the crime. Identity theft, however, is a separate issue and not addressed in this context.

The defendant may present evidence such as an alibi, witness testimony, or video surveillance to demonstrate that they were not the perpetrator of the crime. Successfully proving mistaken identity can lead to the dismissal of the charges or a not-guilty verdict.

The Role of a Theft Attorney

A lawyer evaluating a theft case with a client

A theft attorney’s role includes:

  • Providing legal representation to their client in court

  • Ensuring their rights are protected

  • Engaging in negotiations with the prosecutor

  • Offering legal advice and guidance throughout the legal process

When choosing legal representation for a theft or property crime case, it is important to evaluate the attorney’s experience with the specific type of case and other relevant factors.

The legal process for a theft or property crime case typically involves:

1. Initial investigation

2. Filing of charges

3. Trial

4. Sentencing

A theft attorney can assist their client in navigating the legal process by providing legal advice and guidance, negotiating with the prosecutor, and representing the client in court.

Evaluating the Case

Skilled in criminal defense, attorneys defending against theft charges follow a thorough process that includes a careful review of the evidence, an analysis of the conditions of the arrest, and an assessment of the value of the stolen items. The charges that a theft case could potentially carry depend on factors like the value of the stolen items, the circumstances surrounding the theft, and the jurisdiction where the theft took place.

An experienced stolen property attorney can identify potential defenses and evaluate the strength of the case, ensuring the best possible outcome for their client. This involves a comprehensive understanding of the specific charges, potential penalties, and the evidence available to the defense.

Negotiating with Prosecutors

Negotiating with federal prosecutors is a crucial aspect of a theft case, as it can involve plea bargains, reduced charges, or alternative sentencing options. The seriousness of the situation and the robustness of the evidence presented often influence the negotiation process.

A skilled stolen property attorney can present pertinent arguments and evidence to support their client’s position, such as character references, evidence of rehabilitation, or evidence indicating that the defendant was not the perpetrator of the crime. Additionally, the attorney may address the client’s prior criminal record if relevant to the case, and consider the stolen property’s value in their defense strategy.

The negotiation process can potentially result in outcomes such as:

  • a plea deal, where the defendant agrees to plead guilty in return for a lesser charge or a reduced sentence

  • the case could be dismissed

  • the defendant could be acquitted

Preventing Theft Charges

A person taking steps to prevent theft charges

Preventing theft charges can involve taking steps to secure personal property, being aware of one’s surroundings, and reporting suspicious activity to law enforcement. Measures to prevent theft charges include:

  • Locking doors and windows

  • Installing security systems and using alarms

  • Installing locks and keeping valuables out of sight

  • Employing surveillance cameras

By implementing these measures, you can further safeguard your personal property.

Staying aware of your surroundings involves keeping an eye on individuals and activities nearby, identifying potential risks, and maintaining vigilance for any suspicious behavior. If you notice any suspicious activity, it is advisable to promptly report it to law enforcement. Taking these preventive measures can help minimize the risk of theft charges and protect your personal property.


In conclusion, understanding theft and property crimes, their legal definitions, classifications, consequences, and available defenses is crucial for anyone facing such charges. By working with an experienced stolen property attorney like those at Soyars & Morgan Law, you can navigate the complex legal process and increase your chances of a favorable outcome. Be proactive in securing your personal property and reporting suspicious activity to prevent theft charges, and remember that expert legal representation is essential in the face of theft or property crime accusations.

Work with Soyars & Morgan Law – Experts in Theft Defense

Soyars & Morgan Law, based in San Antonio, is experienced in theft defense and can provide expert legal representation for those facing theft or property crime charges. With a wealth of knowledge and experience, our criminal defense attorneys can guide you through the complex legal process and ensure that your rights are protected.

If you’re facing charges for petty larceny, grand theft, or any other type of theft crime, our attorneys Soyars & Morgan Law are here for you. Our stolen property legal team will passionately advocate for your rights and tirelessly work towards securing the most favorable outcome in your case. Please feel free to contact us or give us a call at 210-390-0000 for a free consultation and expert legal representation. We are here to help.

Additional Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of intent is required for the crime of theft?

The crime of theft requires the intent to permanently deprive another person of their property, meaning keeping the property for its useful life. Therefore, a specific intent is necessary for the crime of theft.

What is the most common type of theft?

Wage theft is the most common type of theft in the United States, surpassing all other forms. It occurs in many ways and is unfortunately widespread.

What is the case of theft?

The case of theft involves unlawfully taking or using property belonging to another person, and is also known as larceny. Depending on the severity of the crime, it can be charged as either petty or grand theft.

What is it called when someone steals your property?

Theft of someone else’s property is commonly referred to as “larceny” and is illegal under state law. It occurs when a person takes another’s property without permission with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of it.