Being convicted of theft can have devastating effects on the rest of your life. Most theft offenses are graded as felonies, and with a felony conviction on your criminal record, you face major obstacles to finding a job, being approved for loans and housing, and being able to get professional licenses and certifications. Your criminal record will follow you forever, and can be accessed by any lender, landlord, or employer who wants to run a background check.
When the charges are this serious, you can’t afford to face the prosecution alone. You need an knowledgeable and aggressive defense lawyer on your side in court. Attorney Darwin Overson has more than a decade of experience serving West Valley City, and offers free case evaluations for all new clients.
To set up your free and confidential legal consultation, call Darwin right away at (801) 758-2287.
Is Theft the Same as Robbery and Burglary in Utah?
The short answer to this question is no. On the contrary, each of these three offenses are completely distinct, and are charged under entirely different circumstances.
Burglary, for example, specifically involves breaking and entering with the intent to commit any felony or any of the following crimes:
- Sexual Battery
Burglary is typically graded as a third degree felony, unless the property was someone’s home, in which case it can be charged as a second degree felony. Aggravated burglary, which involves injuring the victim or using a dangerous weapon, is a first degree felony.
In contrast, robbery specifically involves the use or threatened use of harm, force, or violence. Under Utah Criminal Code §76-6-301, you can be charged with robbery if you “unlawfully and intentionally take or attempt to take personal property… from [somebody’s] person… against his will, by means of force or fear.” Robbery is a second degree felony, while aggravated robbery is a first degree felony.
Stealing which does not fall into the category of robbery or burglary is treated as theft. Therefore, theft actually includes many different charges, such as:
- Identity Theft
- Property Theft
- Theft of Services
- Theft by Extortion or Deception
- Vehicular Theft
Even receiving stolen property, or trying to get around service charges, can result in criminal charges.
Theft is categorized primarily based on the dollar value of the property which was stolen, whether that property was cash money, a personal belonging, or the value of an intangible object like cable, electricity, or another person’s identity. Offenses are divided into the following categories:
- Class B Misdemeanor — $499 or less
- Class A Misdemeanor — $500 to $1,499
- Third Degree Felony — $1,500 to $4,999
- Second Degree Felony — $5,000 or more
However, there are also other factors which can influence offense grading. For example, if the item stolen was a gun or a usable vehicle, the defendant can be charged with a second degree felony — regardless of the item’s dollar worth. To give another example, you can be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor for stealing less than $500 in value — normally a Class B Misdemeanor — if you commit theft on a property where you have committed another theft in the past.
West Valley City Shoplifting Charges and Juvenile Offenders
Shoplifting is a particularly common form of theft, particularly among juvenile offenders (i.e. minors under 18 years old). Technically called “retail theft,” shoplifting covers a wider scope than most people realize. While many people assume you have to steal merchandise in order to be charged with shoplifting, under §76-6-602 you can also be charged with shoplifting for:
- Removing or altering a retail item’s price tag or other markings.
- Stealing a shopping cart.
- Intentionally under-ringing an item (i.e. misrepresenting its value as being lower than it actually is).
Juvenile offenders are generally tried in civil juvenile courts, as opposed to the criminal district courts which hear adult cases. However, minors who are charged with aggravated robbery or aggravated burglary may be sent to district court where they face adult prosecution and sentencing.
Fines and Penalties: Paying Treble Damages
Utah is tough on crime, and the judges often impose costly fines and lengthy sentences upon convicted defendants. If you are found guilty in court, you could be facing the following maximum penalties:
- Class B Misdemeanor
- Fine — Up to $1,000
- Sentence — Up to 6 months
- Class A Misdemeanor
- Fine — Up to $2,500
- Sentence — Up to 1 year
- Third Degree Felony
- Fine — Up to $5,000
- Sentence — Up to 5 years
- Second Degree Felony
- Fine — Up to $10,000
- Sentence — Up to 15 years
- First Degree Felony
- Fine — Up to $10,000
- Sentence — Up to a life sentence
In addition to having to pay already considerable criminal restitution fines, theft offenders can also be held civilly or non-criminally liable for the payment of “treble damages.” Treble damages essentially means triple damages. In accordance with §76-6-412(2), defendants may be required to pay “three times the amount of actual damages, if any sustained by the plaintiff, and for costs of suit and reasonable attorney fees.”
Let Our West Valley City Theft Defense Attorneys Fight for You
If you or someone you love has been arrested for shoplifting, robbery, burglary, or other related offenses in West Valley City, theft lawyer Darwin Overson can help you explore your legal options and fight the charges. To arrange for a completely free and private case evaluation, call Darwin today at (801) 758-2287.