If you have been charged with a theft offense, we recommend the following key steps:
- Understand the charges
- Understand the penalties
- Involve experienced legal counsel
Understand the charges:
It is essential to understand the law and the consequences. Theft offenses in Washington State are separated into three different categories. The category/degree is determined by the value of stolen item. Conviction of one of these crimes may result in a very detrimental outcome.
Both First and Second-Degree Theft (aka Theft 1 and Theft 2) are felony offenses. Third Degree Theft (aka Theft 3) is a gross misdemeanor.
First-Degree Theft (RCW §9A.56.030) may be charged if the property or services stolen:
- Exceeds $5,000 in value (other than a firearm)
- Includes property of any value (other than a firearm or motor vehicle) taken from another person
- Includes a search and rescue dog while the dog is on duty
- Includes commercial metal property, nonferrous metal property, or private metal property, and the costs of the damage to the property exceed $5,000 in value.
Second-degree Theft (RCW §9A.56.040) may be charged if the property or services stolen:
- Exceeds $750 in value but does not exceed $5,000 in value (other than a firearm or motor vehicle)
- Includes 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
Includes commercial metal property, nonferrous metal property, or private metal property, and the costs of the damage
- Includes commercial metal property, nonferrous metal property, or private metal property, and the costs of the damage to the property fall between $750-$5,000 in value
- Includes an access device
Third-Degree Theft (RCW §9A.56.050) may be charged if the property or services stolen:
- Do not exceed $750 in value, or
- Includes 10 or more merchandise pallets, or 10 or more beverage crates, or a combination of 10 or more merchandise pallets and crates
- Many people refer to this offense as “shoplifting”
Understand the penalties:
- considered a class B felony
- punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a maximum fine of $20,000, or both
- considered a class C felony
- punishable by up to five years in prison, a maximum fine of $10,000, or both
- considered a gross misdemeanor
- punishable by up to one year in jail, a maximum fine of $5,000, or both
Consequences of a conviction of any of these crimes also involves the long-term impacts of a criminal record. This could potentially impact many key areas of one’s life (housing, employment, immigration, relationships, etc.).
Involve experienced legal counsel:
If you or someone you care about has been charged with a criminal offense involving theft or shoplifting, contact a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The earlier you act the more options you may have!
Our criminal defense attorneys are skilled and available to help protect your criminal record and to reach the best possible outcome. Before you pay any penalties or admit to any fault, it is essential that you consult a knowledgeable attorney. Please contact us today for a Free Consultation.