Attorney Michal Durakiewicz is an experienced Franklin lawyer who seeks to provide rigorous representation for his clients in the face of criminal charges. Theft charges, for example, will require an attentive and detailed investigation of the situation to build a strong defense strategy against harsh or unfair accusations. Let an experienced and consistently prepared advocate like Attorney Durakiewicz defend you against your theft charge. Having handled more than 500 criminal cases, he will put his professional knowledge and skill to use as he champions your defense.
What Constitutes Theft?
Under Tennessee law, theft is when a person takes another’s property without their consent and with the intent to permanently deprive them of that property they own. It is also illegal under the theft statutes to steal services, such as by:
- obtaining services using deceit, fraud, coercion, forgery, false statements, or false pretenses;
- using services meant for others for their own benefit; or
- leaving businesses, such as hotels and restaurants, without paying for services.
Theft offenses could include a range of activities, such as embezzlement, fraud, larceny, receiving or concealing stolen property.
Misdemeanor And Felony Penalties
Like many states, Tennessee classifies theft offenses as either misdemeanors or felonies depending on the value of the property allegedly stolen. If the allegedly stolen property or services has a value of $1,000 or less, the defendant will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 11 months and 29 days in jail, as well as a $2,500 fine. However, acts of theft involving property worth more than $1,000 will be charged as felonies:
- Class E felony (value of the property or services is $1,000-$2,500) – imprisonment for 1-6 years and a $3,000 fine
- Class D felony (value of the property or services is $2,500-$10,000) – 2-12 years in prison and a $5,000 fine
- Class C felony (value of property or services is $10,000-$60,000) – 3-15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine
- Class B felony (value of the stolen property or services is $60,000-$250,000) – 8-30 years in prison and a $25,000 fine
- Class A felony (value of the stolen property or services is $250,000 or more) – 15-60 years in prison and a $50,000 fine
Sentencing Alternatives And Enhancements
Certain circumstances may warrant sentencing alternatives or sentencing enhancements. Individuals convicted of misdemeanor theft (theft of property, services, or merchandise valued at less than $1,000) may be eligible for sentencing alternatives like payment of a fine or restitution without jail time, a suspended sentence, work release, or community service.
However, a convicted individual may be subject to harsher punishments if their criminal history suggests they are a multiple offender, persistent offender, or career offender, defined as the following:
- Multiple offenders – defendants facing their third, fourth, or fifth felony
- Persistent offenders – defendants facing their sixth or subsequent felony
- Career offenders – defendants who have received their seventh or subsequent felony
Criminal And Civil Shoplifting
While shoplifting is technically a form of theft, Tennessee has specific shoplifting statutes that address criminal and civil penalties for the offense. A crime of shoplifting is when an individual intends to deprive the store owner of the full value of their goods and:
- conceals or removes the merchandise;
- alters or switches the price tag;
- transfers the merchandise from one container to another;
- causes the cash register to display the wrong price;
- disables any security devices;
- uses any device or instrument to facilitate the theft; or
- activates or interferes with a fire alarm system.
The penalties for criminal shoplifting will depend on the value of the allegedly stolen goods. Note that a fifth or subsequent shoplifting offense within 2 years increases the punishment by one classification (e.g., Class A misdemeanor to Class E felony).
If the listed retail price of the allegedly stolen merchandise is worth less than $500, a retail merchant may elect to sue for damages in civil court instead of pursuing criminal prosecution. Offenders who may be held civilly liable to the merchant owner in such a case could be an adult shoplifter, a parent/guardian of a minor who shoplifted, or even an employee who shoplifted from their employer. The specific civil penalties will vary depending on whether the merchandise was recovered and in what condition. However, in most cases the merchant can recover 2-3 times the value of the stolen goods.
Contact Durak Law Firm Today
If you have been charged with theft in Franklin, Tennessee, seek an experienced theft attorney to get started on your defense today. The penalties for theft can be steep, particularly if the allegedly stolen property had a significant monetary value. Durak Law Firm always stands prepared to represent clients in court and has the experience necessary to do a rigorous investigation of your situation and legal options.
To learn more about how Durak Law Firm can help you fight your assault accusations, schedule a free consultation online or at (615) 812-2829.