Although often seen as a comparatively minor offense, the fact is that a theft conviction could be crippling to your reputation and your career aspirations. Whether a misdemeanor or felony, a theft conviction creates mistrust and prevents you from pursuing some occupations. A Chattanooga theft lawyer could be instrumental in building a solid defense to the theft charges that you are facing.
Whether you are facing accusations of theft due to a mistake, false allegations, or a momentary lapse in judgment, you have the right to defend yourself against the state’s charges. A theft conviction could be highly detrimental to your future, and avoiding or minimizing the impact of theft charges on your life could be more successful if you contact a seasoned criminal defense lawyer for advice.
Under Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-14-103, individuals commit theft if they intentionally take or exercise control over the property without consent. Theft also requires that the individuals intend to deprive the owners of the benefit and use of the property. There are various degrees of theft, including both misdemeanor and felony offenses.
Theft offenses are divided further into different categories or classes depending on the value of the property or services stolen. While it is more common to see charges for lower-level theft offenses, in some cases, high-level theft offenses do occur. Theft could result in the following charges:
The most severe charges and penalties are reserved for large-scale thefts of property or services worth more than $60,000. For property valued at more than $60,000, but less than $250,000, the charge is a Class B felony, and for more than $250,000, the charge is a Class A felony. A theft lawyer in Chattanooga may be able to evaluate the evidence in a theft case and determine whether the charges are appropriate based on the value of the allegedly stolen property or services.
Just as the possible charges for a theft offense in Chattanooga range widely, so do the accompanying penalties. A Class A misdemeanor conviction may result in incarceration for 11 months and 29 days, a fine of $2,500, or both. At the opposite end of the spectrum, a Class A felony theft conviction could result in a prison sentence of 15 to 60 years, as well as a $50,000 fine.
Under Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-14-144, if the owner does not recover the stolen merchandise or it is damaged, then the accused may have to pay a penalty of $100 or three times the amount of the damage to the merchandise, whichever is greater. On the other hand, if the owner recovers the merchandise in a sellable condition, then the civil penalty is limited to $1000 or two times the retail value of the merchandise, whichever is greater. A theft attorney in Chattanooga may be able to determine whether civil penalties instead of prosecution is a possibility for certain cases.
Applying for a job, looking for housing, and obtaining credit all could become more challenging when you have a theft conviction on your record. Regardless of the circumstances, others often see a theft offense as a sign of dishonesty or untrustworthiness. A Chattanooga theft lawyer might be able to help find solutions to the charges that you are facing that reduce your potential exposure to a criminal conviction.
A theft conviction also may impact your ability to attend college or graduate school, interfere with professional licensing, and jeopardize your immigration status. Even a one-time mistake could have adverse effects for you, both personally and professionally, for years to come. Getting legal representation concerning any theft charges could help protect your future.