Atlanta Theft Crimes Lawyer
When you are charged with theft, as with any other criminal offense, the burden of proof rests with the prosecution. As a defendant in a criminal case, you are considered innocent unless and until you plead guilty, or a jury delivers a guilty verdict at trial. If there is reasonable doubt about your guilt, then the jury must deliver a verdict of not guilty. The Atlanta theft crimes defense lawyers at Ghanayem & Rayasam can present evidence that points to your innocence, reveal flaws in the prosecution’s interpretation of the evidence they are using against you, and persuade judges not to let jurors see or hear evidence that prosecutors obtained illegally.
Elements of a Theft Case
The simplest criminal charge a person can get for stealing in Georgia is theft by taking, which some other states refer to as larceny. Theft by taking simply means that you took an item of property without the lawful owner’s permission or, if the owner agreed to let you borrow the item temporarily, you intentionally failed to return it. According to Georgia law, theft by taking can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on whether the value of the stolen property was less than or greater than $1,500.
To convict a defendant of theft by taking, the prosecution must prove the following claims:
- The victim legally owned the property.
- The defendant obtained the property without the victim’s consent or kept the property longer than the victim intended to let the defendant keep it.
- The value of the property was what the prosecutors claimed it was.
- The property was in the possession of and under the control of the defendant.
- The defendant knew that the property was in the defendant’s possession and did not attempt to return the property to the victim.
Remember that the standard of evidence is very high in criminal cases, especially in felony cases. You only have to disprove one of the prosecution’s claims to change the outcome of your case. Even if you only demonstrate that the value of the property is less than what prosecutors claim that it was, this still means that a lesser sentence applies than what prosecutors were originally seeking, even if the jury still finds you guilty of theft by taking.
Therefore, these are some defenses that defendants can advance in theft by taking cases:
- The alleged victim did not own the property that the state is accusing you of stealing.
- The alleged victim consented to you keeping the property until the date that the police found it in your possession.
- The property has a much lower value than what the prosecution claims.
- The property was not in your possession.
- You returned the property to the alleged victim or attempted to return it.
These are just the claims that you can make when refuting the prosecution’s case at trial. Just as often, defendants can get acquitted or get their charges dropped by persuading judges to exclude certain pieces of incriminating evidence by proving that investigators discovered or seized incriminating evidence in violation of the defendant’s rights, such as by searching the defendant’s property without probable cause.
In Georgia, “Theft” can cover a variety of crimes. The most common Theft crimes are as follows:
Theft by Taking - Georgia defines a Theft by Taking as the unlawful taking or appropriation of the property of another with the intention of permanently depriving that person of the property. This is the most commonly charged Theft crime and can cover a variety of situations from embezzlement to common Theft.
Theft by Deception - A Theft by Deception occurs when an accused takes the property of another through the use of deceit or fraud.
Theft by Conversion - A Theft by Conversion is when a person keeps property they have lawfully obtained or borrowed with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of this property. An example of such an offense is when an individual keeps a rental car vehicle past the agreed upon term.
Theft of Services - A Theft of Services occurs when an individual uses deception to obtain services illegally, such as using a false identification to avoid payment for services rendered.
- Theft by Receiving Stolen Property - An individual commits the offense of Theft by Receiving Stolen Property when they possess stolen property which they knew or should have known was stolen. Under this crime, an individual is not accused of taking the property but instead with receiving the property from the original thief.
If the amount alleged to have been stolen is worth more than $500 in value, then the State can charge the Theft as a felony offense. Felony Thefts can carry a maximum punishment of up to ten years in prison for each alleged incident.
It is important to keep in mind that just because you have been charged with a Theft that this does not mean you are guilty of the crime.
At Ghanayem and Rayasam, we have seen many cases where our clients were unjustly accused of Theft. Many times our clients faced “Theft” charges which were nothing more than civil cases which were improperly brought as criminal cases. Other times, we have seen Theft charges brought against clients who never had the intention to deprive the owner of the property they were accused of stealing. Our firm has been successful in getting many of these cases dismissed.
If you have been charged with a Theft crime in Georgia, then you need lawyers who will stand up for your rights and aggressively defend your case. Even if you are guilty for the crimes for which you have been charged, we will work tirelessly to minimize any punishment, including protecting your criminal history from showing a conviction. At Ghanayem & Rayasam we understand that every criminal case is unique. Our goal is to provide you with the best possible options for resolving your criminal matter. Please contact our office at (404) 561-0202 to speak with us about your case and to see how we can help you.