Allegations of theft are very common in Seattle and throughout Washington state. Theft allegations can include anything from shoplifting, to identity theft, to being accused of embezzling millions from an employer. Whatever the specific charge may be, it is considered a “crime of dishonesty” that can have a lasting negative effect on your record.
There has also been a lot of pressure on prosecutors in recent years to treat so-called “white collar crimes” more aggressively and seek longer jail/prison sentences, especially when dealing with high dollar amounts and/or vulnerable victims. Because of this, theft cases must be handled carefully by an experienced law firm to ensure you are getting the best possible outcome.
Below, you’ll find answers to many common questions related to domestic violence allegations, but the best way to make sure your individual questions are answered is to simply give us a call for a free, no strings attached consultation.
What are some of the potential results I can expect?
Because every case has its own unique set of facts and circumstances, it’s not possible for us to tell you what result you will get on your particular case until we have had a chance to fully litigate it. That said, here are some potential results, all of which we have achieved for our clients:
We explain some of these these potential outcomes in a little more detail further down the page, but it’s best to simply call us for a full explanation of what these outcomes mean and how we can achieve them.
There is a wide variety of potential outcomes, so we don’t want you to get ahead of yourself with worrying about every single potential consequence, but because we know this is often a burning question, here are a few:
Theft is considered to be a “crime of dishonesty.” Thus, a conviction can lead to collateral consequences such as loss of current employment, reduced future job prospects, immigration concerns, and even denials of housing applications.
We handle any and all types of theft charges in both state and federal court. Here’s a quick list of some of the most common that we see. If you don’t see the charge you have been accused of below, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Just give us a call.
One of the most common white collar crimes that we see is what is referred to as “Embezzlement.” This typically comes in the form of an employee allegedly stealing from his/her employer in some way, whether it involves writing checks to oneself or some other more complex scheme. You should contact us the second that your employer questions you about an accounting discrepancy or otherwise hints there is any concern whatsoever. If we intervene early, we can sometimes work out an out-of-court settlement that avoids any felony or misdemeanor prosecution. Embezzlement offenses can often become complicated matters involving mountains of documents and evidence. An arrest or conviction for embezzlement and other white collar crimes can also lead to swift and overwhelming consequences including seizure of bank accounts, forfeiture of your home, and the stripping of professional licenses/accreditation. If you are being investigated for a White Collar crime at the state or federal level, the sooner you get a qualified attorney on your side to protect your rights, the better. Court & Michelle are experienced and skilled at handling these complex and sensitive matters, and are always just a phone call away.
The answer to this varies depending on your particular situation, but there are three universal pieces of advice:
From there, we need to hear more about your individual situation to advise your further. In the meantime, please view our video below on the subject and visit our Under Investigation page.
The ‘standard’ theft charges are Theft 1 and Theft 2. However, there are also a number of theft-related felony charges you could be facing, such as receiving stolen property, trafficking in stolen property, Theft of a motor vehicle, etc.
Theft 1 involves allegations of sums over $5000, whereas theft 2 is between $750 – $5000. We see these cases in many different forms, including what are commonly referred to as embezzlement cases. Overall, there are four main different ways to resolve a Felony theft case:
Trial, which can result in either a ’Not Guilty’ or ‘Guilty’ verdict.
An expedited felony is the term used when a county prosecutor’s office believes they have enough evidence to charge you with a felony theft crime in Superior court, but instead charge you in District Court where misdemeanors are handled.
The decision to do this is typically made based on two primary factors:
Once in District Court, you have two general options: (1) plead guilty to a misdemeanor, or (2) reject the misdemeanor deal. If you choose the latter, the case will be dismissed at the District Court level and then refiled as a felony in Superior Court. You would then be re-arraigned on the felony and start fighting the case again from there.
If you instead choose to stay in district court, we can work to negotiate the terms of any misdemeanor plea to ensure you are getting the best possible resolution. We will also always look at the possibilities of a dismissal or some other misdemeanor resolution as described below, but prosecutors can be extremely reluctant to offer any alternative resolution on expedited felony matters. Because of this, while rare, in certain circumstances you can even be better off having the case transfer to Superior Court to get the best resolution.
There are some notable differences in potential resolutions of misdemeanor theft cases vs. felony theft cases. For misdemeanor thefts, there are three main ways to resolve your case: (1) Pre-Trial dismissal; (2) Guilty Plea or (3) Trial, which can result in a ‘Not Guilty’ verdict or a ‘Guilty’ verdict.
A Pre-Trial dismissal can come about in three different ways:
A Stipulated Order of Continuance (SOC) is essentially like a contract you enter into with the city or state prosecuting agency. If you hold up your end of the bargain, they will agree to dismiss your case your case after a set period of time. The length of an SOC can vary from 6-months on the low end to 24 months on the high end. During the period of the SOC, there are often a number of hoops you will need to jump through. These could include:
If you are accused of misdemeanor theft, you (through your attorney) can pay restitution directly to the victim and they can in turn tell the judge that they have been paid in full and they don’t mind if the case is dismissed. The judge then has the authority to dismiss the case entirely, even if the prosecutor objects.
In cases where this is an option, the approach to the victim must be handled very delicately and you NEVER should try to handle something like this yourself as (1) you would likely be in violation of a No Contact Order, and (2) it could easily be construed as an attempt at witness intimidation or bribery.
A guilty plea will either result in a deferred sentence or a suspended sentence.
A conviction for a theft crimes comes about one of two ways. Either (1) a guilty plea, or (2) a ‘Guilty’ verdict at trial.
After a guilty verdict, there will be a sentencing hearing where the judge will typically order a suspended sentence. However, a deferred sentence can still be argued for.