Laws against theft probably exist in every country, city, and town in the world. Most people are familiar with the concept of theft, but it is a more complex area of law than people realize. Theft may be completed in various ways, and many instances of theft do not appear to be theft at first glance.
You can be charged with theft in many different circumstances. More commonly known forms of theft include shoplifting or robbery. There are also less obvious forms of theft, like theft by deception, theft of services, and even stealing something that the owner lost. Some defendants charged with theft offenses do not fully understand how their actions constitute theft.
If you or someone you know is charged with theft or a similar offense, our legal team can help. Call our Provo, UT theft defense lawyers for advice and guidance about fighting your charges. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 for a free initial case review.
How Does Theft Occur in Provo, UT
For a crime that may be committed in many different ways, the elements of theft are relatively simple. According to Utah Code § 76-6-404, a defendant may be convicted of theft if they had unauthorized control over someone else’s property and intended to deprive that other person of the property. It is important to understand that the elements of theft do not require a defendant to physically place their hands on someone else’s property to steal it.
Since there are numerous ways to complete a theft, Utah has multiple charges for theft-related crimes. While each charge will share similar criminal elements to those mentioned above, they might also have additional elements that must be proven for a defendant to be convicted. In Utah, a defendant may be charged with any of the following theft-related charges:
- Theft by deception
- Theft of lost or mislaid property
- Receiving stolen property
- Theft of services
- Theft of utilities
There may be other forms of theft that are classified differently. For example, many white-collar crimes like embezzlement are classified as theft crimes that occur in a business setting and are tinged with elements of fraud. Theft is also part of numerous other crimes, like robbery or burglary. Call our Provo, UT theft defense lawyers for assistance if you are unsure about your pending criminal charges.
Theft Charges in Provo, UT
Classifications of theft offenses can be found under Utah Code § 76-6-412. Under this law, several factors play significant roles in determining the degree of your charges and the severity of your penalties. Your theft offense may be charged as a second-degree felony if the value of the allegedly stolen property is at least $5,000, the stolen property is a firearm or vehicle, or the property was taken from another person.
Instead, your supposed theft offense could be charged as a third-degree felony if different elements are present. Any theft where the total value of the stolen items is at least $1,500 but less than $5,000 will be charged as a third-degree felony. However, the same charges could come for a total stolen value of at least $500 if you have at least two convictions for any of these offenses within the last 10 years:
- Theft, robbery, or burglary with the intent to also commit theft,
- Certain fraud offenses, or
- Attempt to commit the above crimes.
Third-degree felony charges can also be assessed where the total value of the stolen property is at least $500 but less than $1,500, and the crime allegedly occurs on a property where the defendant committed other thefts within the past 5 years, and the defendant was notified they were prohibited from entering that property again. This would apply in shoplifting cases where a defendant had stolen from the same store in the past.
For lesser theft offenses, a defendant could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor if the value of the stolen items was at least $500 but less than $1,500. Alternatively, suppose the total value was less than $500, but the defendant had committed previous thefts in the same location and been banned from returning to that location. In that case, Class A misdemeanors can be assessed.
Class B misdemeanors are in order when the total value of the stolen goods is less than $500 and does not fit the description set for Class A misdemeanor theft offenses. Call our Provo, UT theft defense attorneys for help for any theft offenses.
Can You Steal Something That Was Lost in Provo, UT?
Theft charges are often confusing because many defendants do not believe they stole anything. However, theft may be completed without force and without taking anything from a physical location. In some cases, theft is more like an accident that you fail to rectify.
It is possible to be charged with the theft of a lost or mislaid item. Under Utah Code § 76-6-407, a person may be charged with theft if they came into the possession of property they know is lost or was mistakenly delivered to them, and that person does not take reasonable steps to return the property. The defendant must also intend to deprive the rightful owner of the property.
This kind of charge might apply in a case where your neighbor’s package was mistakenly delivered to your home. You know the package belongs to your neighbor because it has their name on it. Instead of returning the package to your neighbor, you decide to keep it for yourself. Although you did not physically steal the package from your neighbor, you have committed a theft.
How to Fight Theft Charges in Provo, UT
You can fight theft charges by challenging the identity of the rightful owner or your supposed intent to deprive the owner of their property. If you are accused of stealing property, but the property did not belong to the supposed rightful owner, or you were authorized to have it, you can fight your charges.
The ownership of property is sometimes in dispute. Someone might believe that they are the rightful owner of a particular piece of property. In reality, you or someone else might be the real owner. These accusations are often the results of misunderstandings, but sometimes they are made maliciously.
You can also challenge your charges if you were authorized to have the property in your possession. For example, if you are holding someone else’s property as collateral as part of a business transaction, they cannot claim you stole the property when they renege on the deal. Talk to our Provo, UT theft defense lawyers about how to defend yourself against bogus charges.
Call Our Provo, UT Theft Defense Attorneys
If you are charged with theft or a related offense, you could be facing substantial criminal charges and severe penalties. Our Provo, UT theft defense lawyers can help you fight the charges and protect your rights. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 for a free initial case evaluation.