Defending Theft Crimes in Utah
Theft crimes are one of the most common criminal offenses in the United States. In fact, according to the Disaster Center, there were roughly six million cases of theft reported in 2009 alone. Among the most common thefts are those for cash, followed by thefts for vehicle parts, clothing, and tools.
Regardless of the monetary worth of the items stolen, it is still a criminal offense that can bring potential fines, incarceration, or appear on background checks. These can lead to many other unintended repercussions, affecting employment and housing options if the charge leads to felony conviction. In many circumstances, a theft charge is considered a "crime of dishonesty" which can have lasting consequences long after the criminal case is resolved.
Common theft crimes prosecuted in Salt Lake City, Utah, include:
It's important to remember that the arrest for a crime does not automatically indicate guilt, even in theft cases. Various defenses that can be used to potentially pursue dismissed or dropped charges. You should discuss these options with a criminal defense attorney before speaking with law enforcement or any store manager.
Salt Lake City Theft Attorney
Levitt Legal is a Salt Lake City based defense firm that represents men, women, and minors charged with various theft crimes. Whether a client was accused of theft of $250 worth of items or $3000, they receive the highest level of attention. Darren Levitt works closely with each client, helping them understand both the charges they face and the most favorable paths to take. For a free consultation to discuss your legal options, call (801) 455-1743 or send an online message.
Utah Theft Information Center
Types of Theft Charges in Salt Lake City, Utah
There are several different types of theft aside from the commonly known shoplifting and robbery charges. Theft charges in Utah may include a number of crimes such as:
- Robbery (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-301.) – This crime is charged in cases where an individual allegedly and intentionally takes or attempts the take the property of another person against their will. This is considered a 2nd degree felony charge.
- Aggravated Robbery (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-302.) – Situations where a robbery includes the use or threat of a dangerous weapon, causes another person serious injury, or steals a car are considered 1st degree felony offenses.
- Wrongful Appropriation (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-404.5.) – A person who obtains or exercises control of another person's property on a temporary basis, without express consent, can be guilty of a misdemeanor or 3rd degree felony offense.
- Theft by Deception (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-405.) – Use of deception to acquire another person's property is considered a criminal offense. However, this does not include cases where an individual exaggerates the worth or value of their goods to the public.
- Theft by Extortion (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-406.) – Extortion occurs when a person threatens to cause violence, imprisonment, involve the other person in a crime, reveal confidential information, or commit any other act in order to illegally obtain the other person's property that causes harm.
- Theft of Lost or Mistakenly Delivered Property (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-407.) – Even the theft of property that is lost, mislaid, or mistakenly delivered constitutes a criminal offense.
- Receiving Stolen Property (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-408.) – If an individual receives property that they know or believe to be stolen, but continues ownership or distribution of the item, they can be guilty of a criminal offense. This also applies to pawnbrokers and second hand businesses.
- Theft of Services (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-409.) – Even though services aren't tangible, they can still be used and intentionally unpaid for. This can happen through coercion, force, or any other means used to avoid payment.
- Retail Theft (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-602.) – Individuals who steal items from retail stores, alters labels, or under rings an item with the intent to defraud can be found guilty of this offense.
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Classification of Theft Offenses
The theft of property or services can be punishable as a misdemeanor or felony offense, depending on the circumstances of the theft and previous convictions. The classification for these offenses, under Utah Criminal Code 76-6-412 includes:
Second Degree Felony
- The value of the stolen property or services is $5,000 or more; or
- Property stolen included a firearm or vehicle; or
- The accused was armed with a dangerous weapon during the theft; or
- The property was stolen from the person of another.
Third Degree Felony
- The value of the stolen property or services is between $1,500 and $5,000
- The accused has two prior theft convictions within 10 years of the current conviction
- The act was robbery or burglary with the intent to commit theft
Class A Misdemeanor
- The value of the property stolen is between $500 and $1500
Class B Misdemeanor
- The value of the property stolen is less than $500
Please note that individuals who commit theft are civilly liable for three times the amount of damages sustained, costs of the lawsuit, and reasonable attorney fees.
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Elements of a Theft Charge under Utah Criminal Code Section 76-6-404
The criminal offense of theft can be charged when it is alleged that the defendant obtains or exercises unauthorized control over the property of another with a purpose to temporarily or permanently deprive the other person of that property.
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Evidence Used to Support a Theft Charge
Under Utah's theft statutes section 76-6-403, in proving the theft offense certain evidence can be used to show a single offense embracing the separate offenses including:
- receiving stolen property;
- false pretense;
- larceny by bailees;
- larceny by trick;
- blackmail; and
An accusation of theft may be supported by evidence that it was committed in any manner specified in Sections 76-6-404 through 76-6-410, subject to the power of the court to ensure a fair trial by granting a continuance or other appropriate relief where the conduct of the defense would be prejudiced by lack of fair notice or by surprise.
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Defenses against Theft Charges
There are several defenses for theft charges, including:
- The accused had an honest claim to the involved property or service
- The accused acted under the belief that he or she had the right to the property or service
- The accused obtained the property or service under the belief that the owner would have allowed it if present.
Additionally, under Utah Criminal Code 76-6-604, the act of false arrest or imprisonment, defamation of character, assault, trespass, or violation of civil rights can be used as a defense against a merchant's alleged probable cause for suspicion and detention.
If you were unaware that the property was in your possession, this may also be used to help build your defense. There have been instances where shoplifters have unknowingly kept items in their carts after checkout, and walked out of the store only to find they face charges of shoplifting. Your attorney can best determine what details surrounding your case can be used to efficiently combat the criminal charges.
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Detention of Suspected Violators by Merchant
Under Utah criminal code 76-6-603, merchants who suspect that a person has committed retail theft are allowed to detain them. However, this can only be done in a reasonable matter and for a reasonable amount of time for specific purposes. Note that off-premises detention is only permitted if it is vital to the immediate pursuit of the person.
The merchant is allowed to detain this individual for the following reasons:
- Investigation and inquiry about the unpaid for merchandise;
- Identification request and verification;
- Ask the suspected violator to display items that have been removed;
- Inform the peace officer of the detention and relinquish the person to the officer's custody; and
- In cases of minor children to inform the police or the parents or legal guardians of the child's detention.
If you have been detained for a theft offense, it may be in your best interests to have an attorney present. Whatever the circumstances may be, an attorney can help ensure that your constitutional rights are not infringed and help you avoid self incrimination.
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Utah Theft Resources
National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP) - NASP is dedicated to reducing shoplifting rates across the nation. The organization is made up of law enforcement officers, business owners, and other community stakeholders who are concerned about the theft crime rate. Through conducting research, community outreach, and funding rehabilitation efforts, NASP continues to make an impact in this area.
Cleptomanics and Shoplifters Anonymous (CASA) - CASA is a secular, independent self-help group designed to help cleptomanics overcome their addiction. It is attended voluntarily or through a court order. During meetings, members discuss the difficulties they face and progress they have made, in an effort to provide support for one another.
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Levitt Legal, PLLC | Salt Lake City Theft Lawyer
To discuss your legal options after a theft charge, contact Levitt Legal. Criminal defense attorney Darren Levitt represents clients charged with theft crimes in Salt Lake County, Box Elder County, Weber County, Cache County, and the surrounding communities.
His clients come from all walks of life and are looking to protect their lives from the consequences of a theft conviction. Darren Levitt closely examines their cases during a free consultation and lays the groundwork for a solid defense strategy. Call today to explore your legal options with an experienced and aggressive Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney.