Seattle Theft Crimes Defense Attorneys

You’ve been accused of a Theft Crime. Now what?

Seattle Theft Crimes Lawyers

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.

theft

Common Theft Crimes Questions

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:

  • Compromise of Misdemeanor
  • Dismissal of charges in pre-trial stage for legal/factual reasons
  • Stipulated Order of Continuance
  • Deferred Sentence
  • Reduction of charges
  • Reduction of penalties
  • Not guilty verdict after trial

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:

  • Jail/Prison
  • Fines/Restitution
  • Work Release
  • Community Service
  • Electronic Home Monitoring
  • Community Custody/Probation

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.

  • Shoplifting
  • Theft 1, 2, 3
  • Possession of Stolen Property
  • Burglary
  • Embezzlement
  • Check Fraud
  • Credit Card Fraud
  • Identity Theft
  • Vehicle Theft
  • Vehicle Prowling

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:

  1. Do NOT talk to the police
  2. Do NOT talk to anyone else about the situation either as you run the risk of creating witnesses for the government
  3. Consult with an Attorney

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.

under-investigation

Possible Resolutions for Theft Crime Cases

Felony Theft Cases

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:

  1. Pre-Trial Dismissal
  2. Reduction of charges, resulting in a guilty plea to misdemeanor (see possible misdemeanor resolutions below)
  3. Guilty plea to Felony, which can result in either a deferred or suspended sentence (see below)

Trial, which can result in either a ’Not Guilty’ or ‘Guilty’ verdict.

Expedited Felony Cases

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:

  1. The  total amount of the alleged theft is not excessively higher than the misdemeanor threshold of $750; and
  2. You have zero (or very little) prior criminal history

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.

Misdemeanor Theft Cases

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.

1. Pre-Trial Dismissal

A Pre-Trial dismissal can come about in three different ways:

 

Outright Dismissal

While usually very difficult to achieve, an outright dismissal is the best possible resolution in that it makes the entire case go away without having to wait for months or years on end and/or jump through a bunch of hoops as you must do with other forms of dismissal. It also avoids the risk associated with trial. An outright dismissal can come about one of two ways. Either through convincing the prosecutor to drop the case based on a lack of evidence and/or the presentation of other compelling mitigation, or through filing and winning a pre-trial motion to dismiss the case. Whether we file such a motion, and its chance of success, varies from case to case.

Stipulated Order of Continuance

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:

  • Staying out of trouble
  • Community service
  • Staying away from certain areas and/or people
  • Completing classes/counseling such as a “theft awareness” class
  • Paying a fine/restitution

Compromise of Misdemeanor

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.

2. Guilty Plea

A guilty plea will either result in a deferred sentence or a suspended sentence.

Deferred Sentence

A deferred sentence is where you enter a plea of guilty, but the sentence itself is deferred for a specified period of time (typically between 1-2 years). During this time, you have a conviction on your record. However, the benefit to a deferred sentence is that at the end of the deferral period, we file a motion and order to have your guilty plea withdrawn, changed back to a not guilty plea, and have the case dismissed and vacated off your record. Moving forward, assuming you have no other convictions, you can legally say you have never been convicted of a crime.

Suspended Sentence

A suspended sentence is the most common form of conviction in Washington State. This is when the judge imposes a particular sentence, such as 364 days of jail, but then suspends either all or part of it, meaning you do not have to serve it. You are then typically either placed on informal or formal probation for a period of time (often 12-24 months). Finally, after your case is all said and done and a few years have gone by with no other criminal law violations, you can file a motion to vacate your conviction.

3. Trial

A conviction for a theft crimes comes about one of two ways. Either (1) a guilty plea, or (2) a ‘Guilty’ verdict at trial.

‘Not Guilty’ verdict at trial

As soon as a not guilty verdict is announced, the case is over and you walk away with nothing on your record. It’s the same effect as a pre-trial dismissal ‘with prejudice,’ meaning you can never be tried again for the same charge.

‘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.

Protect yourself with a theft crimes criminal defense lawyer.

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I would highly recommend Mr Court for any criminal case consulting. His approach was thoroughly professional. he was a great listener and a good strategist. His approach was methodical and he didnt rush into any decisions. I changed my counsel just before my first court date and Mr Court did an excellent job. The case was finally dismissed in my favor. I would consider myself lucky but Mr court had some innovative ways to approach my case. It was such a pleasure to have Mr Court on my side. He was super responsive over texts and emails. He was punctual and very gentle in communication.
We never imagined we would be in the position to need a defense attorney, but when we did, we were so thankful that we found Court Will. Both he and Michelle are truly the best. Court is extremely dedicated, thoughtful, calm, and confident. He took time to get to know us, the case, and really ensured that we understood not only what was happening, but all possible outcomes. Court was honest, answered every question, took his time with us, gave excellent advice, and ultimately got the best possible outcome we could have hoped for. He is brilliant, and we are most grateful.
After some research & speaking with other attorneys, I came across Court. I instantly knew he was right for my situation. I met him shortly after we discuss some details on the phone. He was very pleasant & very understanding of this difficult time in my life. One of the hardest things I have ever gone through. Of course I hired him. As months passed, he reached out to me & gave me the best news/results I have ever heard. I know the work he did in the background & I couldn’t be more grateful. Thank you Court!
Chris
A knowledgable and caring attorney who got me an amazing result I was charged with a felony sex crime. I had a previous attorney before hiring Mr. Will. The other attorney told me I needed to plead guilty or I would go to prison for 3 years. Due to a number of reasons, I didn't want to go to trial, and Mr. Will respected that. Mr. Will went to court for me more times than I can count, did some additional investigation and ultimately told me that I could plead guilty to a lesser offense and get probation and house arrest. I was amazed. I give Mr. Will my highest recommendation.
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