Culpeper Theft Penalties
Theft charges are classified as either misdemeanor or felony offenses. As a general rule, any theft that involves a loss of property valued at under $500 is considered a misdemeanor in Virginia. The maximum penalty for misdemeanor theft is up to 12 months in jail and having to pay a fine of up to $2,500. If the theft offense is more severe and the charge is elevated to felony theft, there is a possibility of prison time.
There are various forms of felonies, and different felony levels associated with theft in Virginia, so it is difficult to state with any specificity what an individual would be facing upon conviction for felony theft. In addition to the possibility of imprisonment, a felony record carries a loss of civil rights, including the right to vote, the right to bear arms, and the right to serve on a jury. It is possible for some to regain those civil rights, but it does not happen immediately and depends on the office of the governor.
While it may seem that the harshest penalty for a theft charge is a maximum of 20 years in prison, taking away someone’s civil rights is society’s way of effectively nullifying a person’s official participation in the future of the nation. In order to protect your rights and mitigate the Culpeper theft penalties, a theft lawyer can be your advocate and guide through this time of persecution.
Effect of Prior Convictions
Two prior convictions for theft could escalate a third theft offense from a misdemeanor to a felony, even if the monetary value of the property taken is under $500. Additionally, if an individual is charged with a felony, regardless of whether they have prior convictions, could face substantial additional penalties with any prior record, because a harsher sentence is recommended under the Virginia Sentencing Guidelines.
Probation or Reduced Sentence Options
If the government is able to prove the case against the accused, a Culpeper theft lawyer will look for mitigating evidence to try and get the best outcome under the circumstances. This could include asking for probation or a reduced sentence, depending on how the defendant otherwise conducted themselves in their life. Previous volunteer work, personal, professional, or military accomplishments could have an impact on a person’s sentence, so being able to show that a defendant is an otherwise good person might be used to mitigate Culpeper theft penalties upon conviction.
The first step that attorneys take in theft cases is to look at the elements of the crime that was charged and determine what evidence the government has that can prove each of the elements of the charge. Every element of each charge must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and the government has to have admissible, credible evidence to meet that burden.
Lawyers must consider how the government obtained the evidence, whether it is admissible, and consider whether that evidence is going to be credible enough to sustain a conviction. If it appears that the government is going to able to prove their case, a theft lawyer searches for possible defenses that might be applicable to the client.
If the government should be able to prove their case and there are not available defenses for the client, the defense team begins damage control by finding mitigating evidence in hopes of an outcome that the penalties associated with the Culpeper theft charge would have the least negative impact on the client.
Role of a Culpeper Theft Lawyer
The role played by a criminal defender in a theft case is two-fold. First, they have to look at the evidence and determine the likelihood of their client being convicted if they go to trial. If the prosecution’s case is not strong or the defense attorney believes that they can win, the defense attorney will advise on proceeding to trial.
There are also many cases when it appears that the government will be able to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, and in those circumstances, the role shifts to provide mitigating evidence to support the client. The goal then is to make sure that the theft penalties that result due to the conviction are the best possible outcome, with the least negative impact, under the law.
A person should contact a criminal lawyer immediately after they are charged with any theft-related crime in Culpeper because that lawyer is likely going to need time to successfully prepare any defense that might be available. Waiting until the last minute to hire a lawyer for any criminal charge is never a good idea.