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Being charged with Theft is a very difficult thing. You have often been stopped, questioned, and possibly even arrested. Hopefully you were not taken to jail. Still, you are afraid of what is going to happen to you and afraid for your future.

While the consequences of a theft charge can vary as much as the different types of theft, often times we are able to work out a solution that keeps you out of jail and protects your criminal record. Here are answers to a few of the questions you may have regarding a theft charge:

I barely took anything from that store. Do I really need an attorney?

For criminal charges, the wise answer is always yes. Unfortunately, even the smallest dollar value theft is routinely prosecuted in Washington State. One might think that the authorities would let the theft of just a few items, especially inexpensive ones, go. To the contrary, the most common theft charge we defend in Lynnwood and beyond is a Theft 3 (less than $750) charge.

The good news is that in many courts, especially city courts such as Lynnwood, Shoreline, Edmonds, and Seattle, we can often protect our client's record by achieving a non-conviction result. This is especially true for first-time offenders. State courts are a little more complicated, but with proper planning, similar results can be achieved. We understand that things look bleak in the beginning.

Do not let the natural human reactions of fear, anxiety, or hopelessness stop you from helping yourself in your time of need.

Contact the experienced theft crimes defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Lance Fryrear for a free consultation so we can get things looking brighter for you and your family as soon as possible.

I got charged with Theft. Now what?

If you got stopped in a store for shoplifting, more often than not a police officer came and questioned you. If the officer gave you a ticket for Theft 3rd Degree, it usually has your first court date on it. Look closely at the bottom of the ticket. It should also tell you which court you are supposed to go to. If the officer told you a court date would be coming in the mail, make sure that you gave the officer a good address.

If your address is not good, or you cannot get mail there, you will not get your first court date and you may get a warrant issued for your arrest for a court date you never knew about. This happens all the time. If no officer showed up to your case at all, and you were just processed by store personnel, you will still get a court date in the mail, but it may take a few days longer to arrive.

If you are afraid you may have missed your court date, gave a bad address, do not know where to go, or are not sure what to do, contact our theft crime lawyers at (425) 224-7075.

In our over 25 years of defending theft charges in Washington State, our firm pretty much knows what you can expect as to where and when your court date will be. We can also locate your court date in the judicial information system and let you know what to expect in your matter.

With a good defense attorney it is likely that your penalties will be less than the maximum, depending on the circumstances. Your charges may even be able to be dismissed. If you have been accused of shoplifting something over $750 in value, however, the potential penalties increase and you may be charged with a felony theft. In addition to criminal charges, civil actions can also be taken by store owners to recover the cost of items and penalties.

If you have received a civil demand from a store or their law firm, be sure to review the 'what to do with civil demands from stores' section of this web site. The facts of your case need to be reviewed, particularly if you were wrongly accused or arrested. Even if you are guilty of the offense, you may still be able to keep the matter off of your record depending on what happens with your civil demand.

What happens at my first court date and do I have to go?

In any case, your first court date is called the arraignment. An arraignment is where you are informed of the nature of the charged against you and enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Hopefully you have already spoken to a theft attorney about what to expect in your case. If you have hired our firm, we will usually waive your first court date and enter a plea of not-guilty on your behalf.

This means you can avoid the stress of having to go to court to begin with and also not miss time away from work or loved ones. This is called "waiving arraignment" and is allowed in most non-felony theft cases. Do not worry, even if you think you are guilty of the charges, the Judge still expects you to plead not-guilty so that your attorney can present your best defense.

Will I go to jail?

The likelihood that you will spend time in jail depends on the circumstances and the charges involved. Whether or not authorities properly handled your arrest and questioning can also play a factor. As a firm with a former prosecutor, we have the background and resources necessary to give you the best chance of staying out of jail.

Can I be charged for possessing stolen property?

Possessing stolen property is a type of theft crime that involves a person who knowingly receives, possesses, conceals or disposes of stolen property. This applies if a person knows or should have had reason to know that the property was stolen. Though a person that initially stole the property may have not been identified or arrested, this does not protect the person accused of possessing stolen property. Depending on the type and value of property involved, you may be facing first, second or third degree charges for the possession of stolen property. It may be a gross misdemeanor or felony offense.

What is Trafficking in Stolen Property?

Trafficking in stolen property is a type of Washington theft crime and felony offense that involves dealing in stolen property. There are two primary classifications of this criminal offense:

Trafficking in stolen property in the first degree: knowingly initiating, planning, organizing, managing or financing an operation that involves the theft of property for sales to others. This is a class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $20,000.

Trafficking in stolen property in the second degree: partaking in the reckless trafficking of stolen property. This offense is a class C felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

What can you do for me?

In our free initial consultation, we will cover all aspects of your case and we will tell you what to do. One of our attorneys has several years' experience as a former prosecutor and our firm has been defending the accused for over 25 years.

We will use all of that knowledge and experience to work aggressively on your behalf. Hopefully, we'll also make it easier for you to sleep after you know what to really expect and what positive outcomes are possible or even likely. Just give our office a call and the odds are we can make things better for you as soon as possible.

Get the best defense possible and contact The Law Offices of Lance Fryrear at (425) 224-7075 if you have been charged with any sort of theft crime.

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