Many people don’t realize the seriousness of theft charges in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This is probably why so many people get caught stealing from others. Being arrested for shoplifting or other theft crimes can be embarrassing and costly. It can affect your immediate future and your long-term future, depending on the severity of the crime. Whether you were genuinely guilty or whether it is a misunderstanding, you are in a difficult position when you are arrested and charged with a theft crime. Even if you are truly innocent, you could still face serious consequences. It is important to work with a skilled Chattanooga criminal defense attorney to get the best possible outcome for your case. You may be able to get the charges dropped or reduced by working with an attorney and you may save yourself a lot of money, time, and headaches in the process. Today, we’ll look at the different theft charges you might be facing and the various penalties that may result from those charges, if you are found guilty.
Theft Charges in Chattanooga, Tennessee, May Arise from Mistakes or Misunderstandings
Not everyone who is arrested and charged with theft is actually guilty of the crime. It is not uncommon for mistakes and misunderstandings to lead to such charges. Still, you could be convicted of the crime if you don’t have a solid criminal defense attorney fighting for your innocence. Following are some common ways that mistakes and misunderstandings can lead to theft charges:
- You mistakenly forgot an item in your shopping cart when going through the checkout.
- You thought you had permission to borrow something when you did not.
- You did have permission to borrow something, but the owner of the item states that you did not have permission.
- You were with someone who stole something with or without your knowledge.
- You purchased something in a store without knowing the price had been altered or hidden.
- You mistakenly grabbed someone else’s phone or wallet (for example), thinking it was yours.
- You were with someone who tried to steal something by putting it in your bag.
- You were mistaken for someone else who stole something.
If you are facing theft charges because of a mistake or misunderstanding, then you need to be aware of the fact that you can still end up facing serious penalties. You could end up going to jail, having to pay expensive fines, and having a criminal record. It is important to explore your options for defense with an attorney before assuming that your innocence will be apparent in court.
The Laws and Penalties Associated with Theft and Shoplifting in Chattanooga, TN
The primary crimes related to theft in Chattanooga, Tennessee, are theft of property, theft of services, and theft of identity. Theft of property refers to taking property without the permission of the owner. The theft of services refers to the obtaining of services and failing to pay for those services through fraud, deception, or running out on a bill after receiving the service. In cases involving theft of property or services, the value of the theft determines the severity of the charge.
A theft of property or services that are valued at $500 or less is a Class A Misdemeanor. This can result in up to $2,500 in fines and as much as one year in jail. If the theft of property or services is valued between $500 and $1K, then this is a Class E Felony with up to $3K in fines and up to six years in prison. For theft of property or services valued at $1K to $10K, you have a Class D Felony charge with up to $5K in fines and up to twelve years in prison. A theft of property or services valued at $10K to $60K is a Class C Felony charge with up to fifteen years in prison and up to $10K in fines. In cases where the value of the theft of property or services is greater than $60K, you will face a Class B Felony charge with up to $25K in fines and up to thirty years in prison.
When it comes to theft of identity, the crime and charges are handled a bit differently. You will face identity theft charges if you intentionally take the identity of another person for unlawful purposes. For instance, you might have taken someone’s information to apply for a line of credit or purchase something with their accounts. This is a Class D Felony charge that can result in up to $5K in fines and up to twelve years in prison. You can face these consequences even if you did not actually use the information in an unlawful way, as long it can be shown that you intended to do so.
What Happens if You Have Prior Convictions for Theft in Chattanooga, Tennessee?
It is important to also be aware that if you have prior convictions for theft in Chattanooga, Tennessee, then this can lead to even more severe consequences. There is no specific requirement for the punishment for repeat offenders for theft related crimes, but you can count on having more severe consequences for subsequent offenses if you have any prior convictions. You may be identified as a standard offender, a multiple-charge offender, a persistent offender, or a career offender, depending on how many criminal convictions you have. You need to talk to a Chattanooga, Tennessee, criminal defense attorney to find out how to best handle your charges and minimize the damage.
Contact the Matt Brock Law Firm to Learn More About Your Charges and Defense Options
You should not underestimate the potential impact of theft charges on your life. You should also never assume that you will be found innocent just because you are innocent. You should also not expect to be sentenced to the most severe consequences if you are guilty. Contact the Matt Brock Law Firm to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your charges and options for criminal defense in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Our dedicated criminal defense lawyers in Chattanooga, TN are here to help you get the best possible outcome in your case.