If you have been arrested and charged with a criminal offense involving theft in the State of Nebraska you are probably worried about the outcome of your case. The criminal justice system can be difficult to navigate and is made even more difficult by the stress and worry that accompanies your status as a defendant. Because every case involves a unique set of facts and circumstances, you need to consult with an experienced Nebraska criminal defense attorney for answers to specific questions and advice about your individual case. In the meantime, however, an Omaha theft crimes lawyer provides answers to the top five most frequently asked questions relating to theft crimes.
- I never even left the store. How can they charge me with shoplifting? Once upon a time, shoplifting was a relatively simple, low-tech crime. In the 21st century, however, “shoplifting” has gone high tech, forcing the laws to keep up. In the State of Nebraska, there are several different ways in which you may commit the criminal offense of shoplifting, including:
- Concealing or taking possession of the goods or merchandise of any store or retail establishment (what most people think of as “shoplifting”)
- Altering the price tag
- Transferring the goods or merchandise of any store or retail establishment from one container to another
- Interchanging the label or price tag from one item of a good or of merchandise with a label or price tag for another item of a good or of merchandise
- Causing the cash register or other sales recording device to reflect less than the retail price of the goods or merchandise
- Altering, bypassing, disabling, shielding, or removing any security or alarm device.
- Can theft be a felony? One of the common myths about the crime of theft is that it is not a very serious offense. Belief in this myth can be dangerous as it often causes a defendant to operate under the assumption that the penalties for a theft conviction are correspondingly light. The truth is that the potential penalties for a theft conviction will depend on the value of the item stolen. If the value of the item(s) stolen do not exceed $1,500 theft does remain a misdemeanor; however, when the value exceeds $1,500 theft becomes a felony. When the value is more than $1,500 but less than $5,000 theft is charged as a Class IV Felony with a maximum term of imprisonment of two years. If the value of the items exceeds $5,000, theft becomes a Class IIA Felony which carries up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
- Is it possible to get into a diversion program if I am facing shoplifting charges? National Safety Council Nebraska does operate a misdemeanor diversion program for those who qualify. You cannot have any previous convictions nor can you have completed a diversion program in the past to be potentially eligible. If you do qualify and successfully complete the diversion program you will avoid a conviction on your criminal history. To find out whether your case might qualify, talk to your criminal defense attorney.
- What is a “white collar” crime? The term “white collar crime” was first coined almost a century ago by a sociologist. The term today retains essentially the same meaning as it had back then, referring to non-violent, financial crimes typically committed by professionals. Examples of white collar crimes include things such as embezzlement, identity theft, fraud, and computer crimes. Although we tend to think of these crimes as less serious because they are not violent in nature, they often involve very large sums of money and frequently cross state lines, opening the door to federal charges. Do not make the mistake of downplaying the severity of these type of theft crimes because many of them carry lengthy prison sentences if convicted.
- Do I really need to hire a lawyer for a theft charge? Ultimately, it is your decision to retain an attorney or proceed without one; however, you should keep in mind the non-judicial consequences of a theft conviction before deciding to forego the benefit of an attorney. In today’s world, most employers conduct background checks and few will hire someone with a theft conviction. You may also run into problems with federal benefits, higher education applications and funding, immigration, and even housing if you have a theft conviction. Hiring an experienced theft crimes lawyer gives you a fighting chance of avoiding a conviction and, thereby, avoiding those negative consequences.
Contact a Theft Crimes Lawyer at Petersen Law Office
If you have been charged with a theft crime in the State of Nebraska, consult with an experienced theft crimes lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected. In Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case.