Theft Defense Attorneys in Albany, Oregon

Facing theft charges can be overwhelming and confusing, no matter whether you’re innocent or guilty. After all, navigating the legal system is never an easy task. As with much criminal law, fighting theft charges means focusing on protecting the right to a vigorous defense. From our office in Albany, Oregon, we serve Linn County and the neighboring areas of Polk, Marion and Benton counties. Reach out today for advocacy.

Theft Charges 

Theft is defined as depriving a rightful owner of their property or services. In other words, someone temporarily or permanently withholds or takes someone else’s property or refuses to pay for services rendered. This causes the owner to experience a significant or total loss of the property’s economic value or benefit.

This definition holds a key element: deprivation of property can be permanent or temporary. In other words, the prosecution does not have to prove a person intended to keep the item permanently. Withholding an owner’s rights may constitute theft, even if for a short period.

Consider this situation: an individual takes a laptop from a coffee shop. This action is obviously considered theft, even if the owner recovers the laptop the next day

Theft charges cover both property and services. Obviously, property could include money, real property, or property rights, to name a few. Services include things like transportation (not paying for your taxi or bus ride) or entertainment (sneaking into a movie or concert).

These matters may constitute a misdemeanor or a felony, depending at least partially on the value of the stolen item (some types of theft are felonies no matter what the value). It is up to the prosecution to demonstrate the property’s fair market value. For instance, a person may be charged with stealing a car whose purchase price was $50,000. However, its fair market value may be much lower, such as $8,000, as the vehicle is fully depreciated.

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Theft Types 

Oregon law recognizes the following theft types:

  • Theft involves taking control of the property without consent.

  • Theft may also include taking possession of lost or mislaid property. For example, keeping someone’s wrongly delivered Amazon package may constitute theft.

  • Theft by extortion involves using coercion to take control of property without consent (e.g., blackmail).

  • Theft by deception refers to fraudulent activities such as purchasing an item with a fake check or counterfeit cash.

  • Theft by receiving involves knowingly receiving stolen property. For instance, accepting a stolen cell phone constitutes receiving stolen property only if the charged individual knows the cell phone is stolen. This charge can be tough to prove or disprove.

In Oregon, theft charges may be classified as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the value of the stolen property or service.:

  • Theft in the third degree is a class C misdemeanor and involves property valued under $100.

  • Theft in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor involving property valued over $100 but under $1,000.

  • Theft in the first degree involves property valued over $1,000. It also involves taking property during a riot or catastrophe (looting), or taking a weapon, livestock or pet, or a substance used in manufacturing synthetic drugs.

  • Aggravated theft in the first degree involves property valued over $10,000 but excludes personal use motor vehicles.

Please note that stealing a car is classified Unlawful Use of a Vehicle in Oregon. Obviously, this is a type of theft but may or may not involve actual “theft” charges.

Shoplifting Charges 

Usually, when you think of shoplifting, you think of small items swiped quickly into pockets, suggesting that the penalties should be small. However, shoplifting is charged and penalized like any other theft charge. In other words, it depends on the value of the item or items stolen to determine the level of the charges and the potential sentence.

What Are the Penalties for Theft Charges in Oregon? 

Here is a look at the penalties for theft charges in Oregon:

  • Theft in third degree. Maximum 30 days in jail and a $1,250 fine.

  • Theft in the second degree. Maximum one year in jail and a $6,250 fine.

  • Theft in the first degree. Maximum five years in prison and a $125,000 fine.

  • Aggravated theft. Maximum ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

  • Extortion. Maximum ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Of course, these are only the maximums – the actual sentences can vary based on many factors including criminal history or mitigating factors. Along with whatever jail or compensatory service sanction someone is sentenced to, those convicted of theft will usually have to pay restitution if the property owner did not get their property back or if the property was damaged.

Possible Defenses for Theft Charges 

Here are some common theft defenses to consider in Oregon:

  • Lack of intent means the charged individual did not mean to take property without authorization. This defense also involves implied consent to take the property.

  • The stolen property’s value is too low. This often does not result in total acquittal, but may result in conviction of a lesser form of theft. For example, if the value of property is shown at trial to be less than $100, a person charged with Theft in the second degree would be convicted of the lesser included Theft in the third degree.

  • The owner of the property communicated permission to use or borrow.

Please remember that speaking with a professional criminal defense attorney is the best way to determine the right defense for your case.

Theft Defense Attorneys in Albany, Oregon 

At Felling & Reid, LLC, we understand the ins and outs of the law, and with a collaborative approach, we strive to ensure you are treated fairly as you navigate your case. Facing theft charges is serious business. Call today to protect your right to a fair defense.