Theft charges can have a dramatic effect on both your personal and professional lives, not to mention your future. If you are convicted, employers may be less willing to hire you, while friends and family may be unsure if they can trust you. Even more of a worry are the penalties associated with conviction. You could face fines or even a prison sentence. In a recent article, we discussed a man charged with stealing from a motor speedway.
The quantity of metal stolen could affect how his alleged theft is classified. In several states, theft is designated as either petty or grand, depending on the magnitude of the offense. The difference between these two classifications is critical in criminal defense as the penalties can vary depending on the severity of the crime.
As is explained here, petty theft usually describes an instance where the property stolen is below a certain value. This value can vary from one jurisdiction to the next, so it is vital to know the legislation for your local area. These charges are generally considered minor and often classed as misdemeanors.
Grand theft, however, is classed as an incident of theft where the value of the property stolen exceeds the limit for petty theft. Grand thefts are classed as felonies, which can carry particularly serious penalties.
Of course, the rules vary from state to state and some states use a different classification system altogether. Whatever the case, an attorney can help you to understand the charges against you and may be able to assist you in building your defense and avoiding conviction.