How to Fight Theft Charges in Utah

Some of the most frequently filed criminal charges in Utah are for theft offenses. If you are charged with some form of theft, our team can help you defend yourself and protect your rights.

Theft is more than just one criminal offense. Theft may refer to various theft-related offenses. While there are general elements of theft that should be present in almost all theft cases, many other criminal elements will vary based on the specific nature of your alleged offense. For example, the evidence needed to support shoplifting charges will be very different than that required for extortion. Both are considered forms of theft. This also means that defense strategies will also vary from case to case. It is best to hire an experienced attorney as soon as possible to build the strongest defense for your specific charges.

Get a confidential review of your case and charges for no cost by calling (801) 758-2287and talking to our Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyers at Overson Law, PLLC.

How You Might Be Charged with Theft in Utah

When people talk about theft or crimes involving stealing, they might only think of theft as a singular offense. Theft is far more complex than many people realize. It encompasses various forms and may involve various criminal elements, depending on the specific nature of the offense.

Elements of theft in a general sense are described under Utah Code § 76-6-404(2). A person may be charged with theft if they obtain or exercise unauthorized control over someone else’s property with the purpose of depriving the victim of their property. This is a pretty standard explanation of stealing, but more specific theft offenses might include additional criminal elements.

Theft may constitute one offense that embraces or involves various separate theft offenses. For example, larceny, larceny by trick, embezzlement, theft by false pretenses, extortion, receiving stolen property, and other similar offenses may fall under the larger umbrella of theft.

As such, evidence to support an accusation, according to Utah Code § 76-6-403, will vary based on the defendant’s unique charges. Accusations of larceny or shoplifting will be based on very different evidence than accusations of extortion or receiving stolen property.

Possible Theft Offenses in Utah and How to Fight Them

Numerous criminal offenses fall within the larger category of theft crimes. While the above description of the elements of theft tends to be present throughout these charges, there are often additional elements that are unique to each offense. Below are some, but not necessarily all, theft offenses in Utah and how to fight them.

Shoplifting and General Theft

Shoplifting is a common theft offense and likely falls under the statute for general theft offenses mentioned above. Shoplifting charges are based on the value of the property allegedly stolen.

Utah. Code § 76-6-404(3), theft offenses might be as severe as a second-degree felony or as minor as a Class B misdemeanor – which is not that minor, by the way. If the supposedly stolen property is worth under $500, Class B misdemeanor charges may be assessed. For property valued at more than $5,000, you may be charged with a second-degree felony. Other charges that fall somewhere in the middle may be similarly based on the value of the allegedly stolen property.

Challenging the property’s value is a great way to mount a defense against shoplifting charges. Maybe the prosecutor claims the property was very valuable and wants to charge you with a felony. Maybe the property was actually worth a lot less, and the prosecutor is mistaken, or the supposed victim artificially inflated the value.

Another possibility is that you did not shoplift the items in question. Maybe you paid for your items and were stopped for shoplifting due to a misunderstanding. Maybe you do not have a receipt to prove that you purchased the items. Our Logan criminal defense lawyers can review security camera footage or your credit card history to prove you lawfully purchased the items.

Theft by Deception

Theft may also be charged when a defendant allegedly deceives the victim into handing over the property. Under Utah Code § 76-6-405(2), a person may be charged with theft by deception if they obtain property or exercise control over someone else’s property by deceiving them to deprive them of the property.

Deception might involve lying about the property’s value, which might be deemed “puffing statements.” Lying or deceptive tactics are key. Often, victims willingly hand over their property because they have been tricked.

We can fight these charges if you did not deceive the victim. Maybe the victim did not fully understand what they were handing over, despite your best efforts to explain it. Alleged victims sometimes claim they were tricked when really they regret the lawful transaction.


According to Utah Code § 76-6-406(a), extortion involves threats from the defendant against the victim to deprive them of property. Threats may include future physical harm, confinement, exposure of embarrassing information, withholding something, threats against business interests, and more. For example, a person threatening to expose someone’s embarrassing secrets if they do not pay them money may be charged with extortion.

Fighting extortion charges might mean fighting allegations that you threatened the victim. We might instead argue that you had no information or leverage to use against the victim, making extortion almost impossible to achieve.

Receiving Stolen Property

Even if you do not steal property directly, you might still be criminally charged for knowingly receiving stolen property. According to Utah Code § 76-6-408(2), a person may be charged with receiving stolen property if a defendant receives, keeps, or disposes of another person’s property knowing that the property is stolen or believes the property is likely stolen. Alternatively, a person may be charged if they conceal, sell, or withhold stolen property with the intent of depriving the owner.

A key element here is that the defendant must know or at least believe the property was stolen. Perhaps you were duped by the seller into buying stolen goods, and you had no idea. Another possible defense is that the items were not stolen. Maybe they were lawfully obtained, and the original owner is lying or regrets selling them.

Speak to Our Utah Criminal Defense Lawyers About Your Situation Today

Get a confidential review of your case and charges for no cost by calling (801) 758-2287and talking to our Ogden criminal defense lawyers at Overson Law, PLLC.