Recently in Theft/Shoplifting Category

January 2, 2014

Police Looking to Make More D.C. Bicycle Theft Arrests

The popularity of bicycling n D.C. has propelled full-speed ahead the last few years, in large part due to a heavy push by local government leaders to promote a greater reliance on a two-wheeled lifestyle. bicycle.jpg

More people are biking to work. More people are biking to school. More people are biking just because. All of this has created an increased number of bicycles throughout the District Subsequently, there has been a reported a spike in the number of bicycle thefts. That means police property crimes units are going to be on the hunt for alleged thieves.

While most people recognize that stealing a bicycle outright is a criminal offense (specifically, theft), some may not recognize that purchase of a stolen bicycle second-hand could be considered a felony, per D.C. Criminal Code 22-3232. This is the statute that covers receiving stolen property. So if you find a deal for a $1,000 bicycle being sold on Craigslist for $100, prosecutors may allege that you had reason to know the property was stolen and will therefore charge you with receiving stolen property.

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September 6, 2013

D.C. Theft Arrest Shakes Up Social Services Agency

A D.C. social services worker has been accused of stealing some $700,000 in cash, health benefits and food stamps by reportedly creating false identities.
The 44-year-old worker is accused of forging some 14 phony identifications that authorities say she used to collect benefits. For each one of those fake IDs, she reportedly received Medicaid benefits, food stamps and housing assistance money. Investigators say the theft occurred over the course of a 2.5 year period, from early 2011 through September 2013.

Our D.C. theft defense attorneys
understand that she was reportedly caught after agent with the Department of Human Services grew suspicious of several of those cards. They were flagged, and when one was used at a bank on H Street NE, authorities swooped in, stopping her vehicle a short distance away. Inside her car, investigators found her to be in possession of eight government debit cards. More were allegedly discovered throughout the course of the investigation.

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August 28, 2013

Grand Theft Auto Arrest in D.C. Requires Sound Legal Defense

In Florida, the problem of carjacking has apparently become such a serious issue that at least one police department has issued a public service announcement, warning people not to leave their keys in their vehicle.
In the video, a citizen leaves his vehicle running while he runs into the gas station for a drink. He returns to find his vehicle stolen. In a twist, the reporting officer then has his vehicle stolen.

The whole scenario sounds ridiculous, but our D.C. criminal defense lawyers know that a very similar case actually happened in D.C. earlier this year. It happened in March when a sergeant, responding to a 911 call, left the vehicle running, keys in the ignition. This same officer had previously been assigned to the agency's auto theft unit. While the officer was handling the 911 call, a suspect stole the vehicle, drove it one block and then crashed it before fleeing.

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March 25, 2013

D.C. Cell Phone Theft Arrests Increasingly Commonplace

When U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. was recently summonsed to jury duty, the case for which he was a potential juror was a cell phone theft.
Our D.C. criminal defense attorneys know that cell phone theft is far and away one of the most frequently-reported crimes in the District.

Last year marked a record in the country for number of smart phone thefts. According to CNBC, approximately 113 smart phones are stolen every minute. That amounts to 160,000 daily or approximately 30 million annually. And that number is rising sharply.

In New York City, smartphone thefts accounted for 40 percent of all robberies in 2011. Unlike theft of cell phones, which will generally be charged as misdemeanors because their value is under $1,000, robbery of a cell phone in D.C. - that is, physically strong-arming or demanding it from another person's possession - is a felony. It's punishable by between 2 and 15 years in prison. If you use a gun, your maximum sentenced is upped to 30 years behind bars. If you have a prior criminal record, you could serve a minimum of 5 to 10 years.

This is no minor matter.

Still, law enforcement officials tend to have a tough time tracking culprits, so only a percentage actually end up in court and even fewer are convicted.

But lately, it seems law enforcement and prosecutors are stepping up their effort. In the past several weeks, Metro police have reported nearly a dozen cell phone thefts that have led to arrests.

Ensuring you have a skilled and experienced attorney can put a significant distance between you and that jail cell.

Among the recent cases was a robbery in which a man was walking along Alabama Avenue SE around 7 p.m., sending a text message as he walked, when he was approached by two individuals who demanded his phone. When he refused, the two allegedly beat him and then took both his phone and his wallet. The two suspects were soon apprehended and charged with robbery by force.

There were several incidents near Capitol Hill that mirrored this same method. A man walking on Constitution Avenue NE was approached by a group of people who demanded his phone. When he refused, he was reportedly punched in the face and robbed.

Same thing happened the next day on Pennsylvania Avenue SE. The next day, two teens were arrested on charges of robbery by force.

So there is no question these incidents occur. The question is in ensuring police have the correct suspect. That's not easy.

True, a lot of these phones are equipped with tracking devices. However, those safeguards can often be turned off or don't work if the phone is turned off.

And usually, those who steal the devices aren't trying to keep them anyway. Resale value for the phones is around $200 each.

But keep in mind, if you are caught with a stolen phone, you could be charged with receiving stolen property - even if you didn't know the phone was stolen. Under D.C. Criminal Code 22-3232, this is a felony offense if the value of the item is $250 or more. It's quite possible a cell phone could be. In these cases, you would face up to 7 years in prison. If on the other hand the value of the property is less than $250, it's a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a 180 days in jail.

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January 13, 2013

Public Defender Pleads to Lesser Crime in Shoplifting Case

A public defense attorney in nearby Loudoun, VA has taken a plea deal that will allow her to avoid any serious sanctions following her conviction for shoplifting an energy drink from a local store. meanbean.jpg

Rather than be faced with a theft charge, she has pleaded guilty to trespassing.

Our D.C. defense attorneys recognize that while shoplifting or even a charge of theft 2 are mid-level misdemeanors - meaning you aren't entitled to a court-appointed lawyer if you're arrested solely for either - it's usually a good idea to hire one. Our attorneys have not only worked to have many such charges dropped outright for lack of evidence or other reasons, we've also been able to negotiate plea deals that have resulted in the dismissal of charges with completion of a diversion program or conceding a guilty plea, but only to a lesser charge - one less likely to greatly affect your future.

That last scenario is exactly what happened in this case. The defendant - a public defender herself - was accused of slipping $3 energy drink into her purse while at a store and attempting to leave without paying for it as she went through the checkout line. It was actually the second time she had reportedly been accused of retail theft at this same location, though she was not charged in the earlier incident.

The case prompted baffled editorials from local columnists, who wondered why someone paid an annual salary of $127,000 would need to steal a cheap drink.

Nonetheless, a conviction on a theft charge could have meant serious consequences for this woman because it is considered a crime of moral turpitude. A conviction for a crime of moral turpitude can sometimes be used against you by your employer or immigration officials, if you're not a citizen. It also could have resulted in the loss of her license to practice law.

Having the charge successfully reduced to trespassing means she is less likely to suffer any major disciplinary action either from her employer or from the Bar Association. Her immediate supervisor has gone on record with the Washington Post to say the attorney is doing an excellent job and they are happy to have her on their team.

The actual charge of shoplifting is technically on the books in D.C. Criminal Code 22-3213, carrying a fine of up to $300 and three months in jail. However, incidents of retail theft are most often charged as second-degree theft. It's still a misdemeanor, but it carries a possible jail term of up to a year. A conviction for trespassing carries up to six months of incarceration.

(While no attorney can promise any particular outcome in a criminal case, most people charged with these offenses who work closely with an experienced defense lawyer end up serving little if any jail time.)

In the end, this defendant was not given any jail time, but was ordered to pay a $500 fine ($500 less than the maximum), as well as $84 in court costs. The prosecutor in the case later said his office, which hadn't been seeking a stiff penalty to begin with, was satisfied with the outcome. The defense lawyer was able to convince them that changing the actual charge wasn't going to impact the ultimate outcome of the case, but given lack of criminal history and her role as a public servant, it probably helped save her job.

Again, you won't be appointed a free defense lawyer in a shoplifting case, but it's almost always worthwhile to invest in one.

Continue reading "Public Defender Pleads to Lesser Crime in Shoplifting Case" »

September 24, 2012

Restaurant Comptroller Pleads Guilty to $650k Embezzlement in D.C.

Over the course of a decade, a few hundred dollars pocketed from her employer here and there probably didn't seem like much. tightened100billroll.jpg

But federal prosecutors say over time, those amounts added up to $650,000, ultimately resulting in the long-time employee, the corporate comptroller, pleading guilty to mail fraud for embezzlement.

D.C. criminal defense lawyers do know that while this case was resolved in federal court, many embezzlement cases are handled in district courts. There, the crime of embezzlement actually falls under the broader umbrella of theft, which is spelled out in D.C. Criminal Code 22-3212. In these cases, it is not necessarily from whom you allegedly stole money but how much and in what way.

For example, first-degree theft is charged when the total value of heisted money or property is over $1,000. This charge carries a maximum fine of $5,000 and a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. Second-degree theft is for any amount under $1,000, and maximum jail time for this is 180 days, with fines of up to $1,000.

Additionally, if you knowingly misrepresent either yourself or hide the truth in order to cause another person to act to his or her detriment, that is charged as fraud.

While there is no specific element in the D.C. criminal code for additional punishment of an employee who steals from an employer, the courts may impose harsher penalties than they might otherwise if you were considered to be in a position of trust.

In this case, the 55-year-old employee, who had worked at the company since 1982, was considered to be in a position of trust. As the comptroller, she was responsible for the oversight of accounting, budget matters and accounts payable and receivable.

She reportedly committed the theft in a number of ways:

  • By diverting the restaurant company's money to directly pay off her own personal credit card;

  • Charging corporate credit cards for personal expenses the company had not authorized;

  • Using restaurant vendors, paid by the restaurant, to obtain goods for her personal use.

In building a case against her, prosecutors were able to show that the defendant attempted to conceal her activities by asking vendors to alter invoices, creating phony e-mail messages and categorizing certain personal credit card expenses as being for corporate training. When the company began conducting an audit last year, she reportedly created a false corporate credit card statement so that the items that weren't authorized business expenses wouldn't be reflected.

One of the ways that a skilled defense attorney can help a person facing theft or embezzlement charges is by first having the charges consolidated. Often, prosecutors will stack multiple theft charges against a person, counting each individual act of theft as a separate incident. Experienced defense attorneys can usually have those consolidated as being each connected to a singular scheme, and therefore reduced to a singular charge.

Cases of white collar crime, such as this, require an attorney who understands both the legal process and the field of accounting and finance.

Continue reading "Restaurant Comptroller Pleads Guilty to $650k Embezzlement in D.C." »

May 20, 2012

D.C. Theft Defense: Handicap Permits a Prime Target

An increasing number of people have found they are requiring a D.C. theft defense for stealing handicapped parking permits. handicap.jpg

D.C. theft defense attorneys understand that these tags have become quite valuable on the black market, where they are being sold and traded as a commodity.

Of course, the problem stems from the fact that there is a lack of convenient and inexpensive ways to park along the traffic-clogged streets of D.C., Virginia and Maryland. If the person were to simply park their vehicle along the road without permission, they're potentially facing hundreds of dollars in parking fines.

Just to give you an idea, there are an estimated 17,000 parking spaces in the District. The 2010 U.S. Census indicated there were more than 600,000 people living here. That doesn't include those who commute into the District for work each day. Even a politician could do that math.

A rash of burglaries has been reported in nearby neighborhoods, where individuals are reportedly breaking into vehicles not for the electronics or purses, but rather the handicap permits.

In another case, a 19-year-old suspect in Temple Hills was reportedly arrested for stealing nearly 20 handicapped permits.

These individuals are reportedly turning around to sell the permits for about $50 each to drivers desperate for a place to park. The permits are especially in demand considering the "red top" parking program, which allows disabled motorists to park for free at designated spots. There are about 400 of those spots right now, and when the program is fully functional, it's expected there will be about 1,500. Of course, the only way to verify that the person is disabled? A handicap parking permit.

To give you an idea, the District Department of Transportation reported that in a recent check of blocks in office areas, between 40 to 90 percent of spots were taken by vehicles with handicap permits.

In truth, officials with the Registry of Motor Vehicles aren't sure how many of the permits have been stolen, as not all of them are reported. Generally, if there are many taken from the same area, then police will investigate. One here or there, however, they may not place a high priority on it.

Theft charges, which are spelled out in D.C. criminal code 22-3212, theft is defined as taking of anything without consent.

With regard to heisting handicap stickers, you can even be held liable under the District's Traffic Adjudication Act if you are using someone's permit - with or without permission.

That means if you purchase one of these stickers of the black market, it's considered fraud, and you could be held criminally liable.

And even if you do have permission from the original owner, the person who granted permission could be held liable. Generally, under D.C.'s traffic code (2718.4), doing so will result in a $250 fine and revocation of the permit.

Continue reading "D.C. Theft Defense: Handicap Permits a Prime Target" »

May 13, 2012

Washington D.C. Theft : Metro Fare Evasion

Washington D.C. theft crimes are gaining more attention, following a Fox 5 investigation of Metro fare evasion.subwaystairs.jpg

Washington D.C. defense attorneys know that many people may not see this as actual theft. However, according to the Fox investigation, officials believe people skipping out on fares are costing the district millions of dollars.

While you might not be viewed as a career criminal, this is just the kind of dumb charge that is enough to haunt a person and can dampen future job prospects.

Under D.C. Statute 22-3211, theft is defined as taking someone else's property - or wrongfully obtaining the property of another with the intent to deprive someone else of its benefit and either use it for yourself or to give or sell to someone else. Subsection c says that in the case of theft of services, the person obtains services that would have been available only with compensation and then left without making that payment.

In this case, the services rendered is the Metro ride. Metro rail fares range from $1.60 to $5.00. So it doesn't seem like much - but you can be prosecuted nonetheless.

The news channel went "undercover" with police. Within just a few minutes, police find a young man trying to squeeze through the fare gates without paying. Actually, they spotted several people - he was just the one they were able to catch.

In some cases, people do what's called "piggybacking." This is where a person follows a passenger who has paid very closely so that they are able to slip through before the gate closes.

In other cases, there is abuse of the student pass. D.C. school students get reduced fare rates, but it's supposed to only be used by students. But other people regularly use their friends' and relatives' student cards. That, too, will warrant a citation.

Last year, police reported they issued more than 4,500 tickets for fare evasion and another 2,500 warnings.

While it may be tempting to brush off such an infraction as essentially harmless, officers did note that if you are found guilty, you will have a criminal record.

A lot of riders just pay the fine without trying to fight it. Those fines can range from $1 to $100, but generally fall somewhere around $50.

But in some of these cases, it's possible someone could get wrongly cited. It's busy, it's crowded and transit police aren't interested in hearing an explanation.

While Metro police don't have exact figures for exactly what they may be losing, in New York City, transit officials estimate that for each ticket they hand out, there are roughly another 150 that get away with it. Using that standard, it would mean some 700,000 people who are skipping out on their Metro fare in D.C. With the average fare at about $2.60, that means the transit agency is losing almost $2 million a year.

Of course, no one person would be prosecuted on that scale, but it gives you a perspective on how commonplace this has become.

And of course, the more you do it, the more likely you are to get caught. Officers compare it to doing a "dine-and-dash," which is when you go out to a restaurant to eat and then leave before paying the tab - same concept, police say.

It's also important to point out that when you are busted for fare evasion, police can easily scan your information to see if you are wanted for anything else - either failure to appear on a court date or default on your child support payments.

Is it really worth it for $1.50?

Continue reading "Washington D.C. Theft : Metro Fare Evasion" »

May 4, 2012

Washington D.C. Theft: Cell Phone Robberies to Decrease With Integrated Database

In Washington D.C., theft of cell phones is the fastest growing crime in the district. iphone.jpg

Washington D.C. theft defense attorneys understand that robberies relating to cell phones spiked nearly 55 percent between 2007 and 2011. That's according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

In New York, there were more than 25,000 reports of theft of electronics just in the first 10 months of last year. Of those, more than 80 percent were cell phones.

Now, the cell phone carriers are working together to try to reduce temptation by making the phones virtually worthless once they're stolen.

What we first need to understand is why these devices are such popular targets for Washington D.C. theft in the first place. It has to do with the fact that it's profitable.

For example, an iPhone 4 is going to cost you between $200 and $400. If that phone gets stolen, a person can then turn around and sell it on or and get just a little less than the original price, assuming it's still in decent working condition. The person buying the phone isn't likely to have any idea that it's stolen.

According to D.C. Criminal Code 22-3212, if the value of the item is worth more than $1,000, its theft will be considered a first-degree theft, which means you face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Cell phones, though, are generally going to fall within the under $1,000 range, which will make a theft a second-degree theft, which will result in a maximum of 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

It's important to note, however, that if you take a cell phone by force or directly from a person, that's considered robbery. The sentences for robbery versus theft are much more severe.

In the past, when cell phones were stolen, there wasn't much a person could do. There was no real incentive for the companies to do anything about it because whoever ended up using the stolen phone would end up reactivating it by swapping out the SIM card and become a new paying customer.

But at the urging of the Federal Communications Commission, five major cell phone wireless carriers are working to develop a database that will make it difficult or impossible to use a stolen device. The idea is to make the phone an undesirable target for theft because the resale value will be greatly reduced.

While all the details haven't yet been hammered out, it seems that the cell carriers are going to work out a process by which each device will have its own serial number. When that serial number is reported stolen, the phone won't be allowed to be reactivated. This will also make tracking stolen cell phones easier because officers will have proof in the form of a serial number.

It's expected that this database is going to be live within half a year or so, and will be fully integrated a year after that. Smaller carriers are expected to climb aboard with this as well.

Similar databases are already in use in Germany, the U.K., Australia and France.

Continue reading "Washington D.C. Theft: Cell Phone Robberies to Decrease With Integrated Database" »

February 3, 2012

Two Metro Employees Charged In Washington D.C. Theft Case

Two transit employees were recently arrested and charged with Washington D.C. theft after authorities allege they stole thousands of dollars in fares, The Washington Post reports.

Washington D.C. criminal defense lawyers recognize that this will be a high profile media case because it involves alleged theft from public funds. Just because a person has been arrested, it doesn't mean they are guilty of the charges.
Theft charges, especially Washington D.C. white collar crimes, can lead to serious prison time. White collar crimes are typically financially motivated crimes that involved fraud or schemes to take money that is placed into a person's control.

In this case, law enforcement is saying, a man and his supervisor devised a scheme where they would make the rounds to collect cash from fare machines. The men allegedly would hide a portion of the money a few hundreds yards from their building. At the end of the day, they would meet up and split the profits.

According to The Washington Post, the two men now face federal charges of conspiracy to commit theft. The two men allegedly have been involved in the scam since 2010, according to court documents. Both face up to five years in a federal prison.

Surveillance video and a confidential informant led to the arrests. The newspaper reports that one of the men used the money to buy lottery tickets, which have won him nearly $63,000 in the last four years.

The news report states that it's unclear how much has been stolen. Prosecutors say they have found $150,000 in "unexplained" money being deposited into one of the man's bank account since 2008. Law enforcement agencies are continuing their investigation.

The men allegedly made arrangements to work on the same shift, on rail lines in Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia. The men allegedly hid bags of cash at a nearby parking lot and the men would show up later, separately, to collect their portions. Investigators used Global Positioning System devices to track their vehicles.

These are major allegations, but they bring up important questions. In cases where law enforcement officers attempt to use confidential informants, there should always be scrutiny of those witnesses. In many cases, the people used by police to make arrests are people who have already been arrested.

They agree to plea deals with less prison time or fewer sanctions. In exchange, they are willing to testify to anything the government wants them to say. When your testimony is bought with your liberty, you may be more than willing to help the people in power.

White collar crimes often are complex schemes that have gone on for years and years. But authorities often don't have all the facts when they make arrests. Often, they are studying records for years to determine if they have enough evidence to file charges. Sometimes, they do. Other times, however, they fall short of an acceptable standard. That may not stop them from filing charges, however.

Fight these charges if you are ensnared in some kind of Washington D.C. white collar crime. Don't allow the government to use its power to soil your name. These charges are complicated and require a strong defense.

Continue reading "Two Metro Employees Charged In Washington D.C. Theft Case" »

January 6, 2012

Property Crimes in D.C.: Larceny, Robbery, Burglary, Shoplifting, Fraud (Happy New Year!)

There will be no shortage of D.C. theft crimes making their way through the court system this month. There is typically an uptick of home burglaries during the holidays. Shoplifting, theft and credit card fraud allegations are also common. January signals the start of those cases through the court system.

A D.C. criminal defense attorney should be consulted in each of these cases. In many instances, a sound defense can be built. In all cases, a conviction can lead to long-term consequences, including an inability to hold certain jobs or work in certain professions. Nobody wants to be labeled a thief. 657836_forced_entry.jpg

The LakeRidge-OccoquanPatch is reporting police arrested two D.C. men, ages 23 and 24, after a report of a burglary in progress in the area of Shady River Court. Police stopped their vehicle near Potomac Plaza, based on a description provided by witnesses. The men are facing charges of burglary, grand larceny and credit card larceny.

Now, unless the defendants were driving a pink hearse -- EVEN if the defendants were driving a pink hearse -- an experienced defense attorney will challenge probable cause for the traffic stop. Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable. "Blue car" is not going to be sufficient probable cause to initiate a traffic stop, let alone to conduct a search. Still, police did search the vehicle and recovered items valued at $1,600 that are believed to have been stolen.

D.C. Theft Charges

Under D.C. law, theft of items valued at more than $1,000 is first-degree theft and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Second-degree theft is theft of items valued at less than $1,000 and is punishable by up to six months in jail. Your defense attorney may seek to reduce a first-degree theft charge by challenging the value of the items stolen, or by contesting a move by law enforcement to combine the value of two or more items or occurrences in order to justify a charge of theft in the first degree.

D.C. Burglary Charges

First-Degree Burglary: Involves breaking and entering and theft of items from an occupied home. Punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

Second-Degree Burglary: Breaking and entering and theft from an unoccupied dwelling. Punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

D.C. Robbery Charges

Robbery is defined as the taking of the property of another by force or by threat of force and can include stealthy seizure or snatching. It is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Armed robbery involving a gun or other dangerous weapon is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

Other theft crimes in D.C.

-Purse Snatching
-Mail or Wire Fraud
-Credit Card Fraud
-Auto Theft

Each case is unique and a defense must be built after thorough review of the facts and circumstances. Part of any defense is making sure the defendant is facing the right charge, given the alleged facts. For instance, a misdemeanor trespass should not be filed as a burglary, or a burglary as a robbery. Receiving stolen property is another charge that if often abused by law enforcement -- frequently as an attempt to get a defendant to make incriminating statements against another.

Seeking a D.C. defense lawyer with the knowledge and experience to defend your rights may keep you out of jail and may keep a theft conviction off your permanent record.

Continue reading "Property Crimes in D.C.: Larceny, Robbery, Burglary, Shoplifting, Fraud (Happy New Year!)" »

August 3, 2011

On Being Arrested in Washington, DC for Shoplifting and Theft Charges

DC Shoplifting Charges.jpgA recent article in the Washington Post discusses five common myths about shoplifting. Those five myths are that shoplifting started with the creation of the shopping mall, people shoplift out of need, most shoplifters are women and teenagers, stores can stop shoplifters, and shoplifters can always stop themselves. According to Rachel Shtier, the author of The Steal: A Cultural History of Shoplifting, these myths are not true. As Shtier points out, shoplifting was documented in the 16th Century, many stolen items are luxury items rather than necessities, middle aged adults make up the largest percentage of shoplifters, stores have been unable to stop the crime despite increasingly sophisticated security measures, and shoplifting is being studied and treated as a disease by medical professionals. The author further suggests that the shoplifting arrests of Winona Ryder and Lindsay Lohan, which I have discussed in a previous post, make news but may not be indicative of the statistical data surrounding shoplifting.

As a Washington, DC shoplifting defense lawyer, I often get calls from people charged with theft or receiving stolen property (RSP). In the District of Columbia, the maximum penalty for theft in DC is determined by the amount or value of property involved. If the stolen property is worth $1,000 or more, this is first-degree theft punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
If the value of the stolen property is less than $1,000, this is a second-degree theft charge, which is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. In the District, shoplifting is generally charged as second-degree theft.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that shoplifting or theft is a crime that makes potential employers question your trustworthiness. This may also affect immigration status because it involves dishonesty. Whether you are worried about a security clearance for the military or a government job, or trying to work in retail, banking, or the even the restaurant industry, a DC theft conviction can make things very difficult for you. You should consider these consequences before taking a quick plea. While that may get you out of court fast, the effects may follow you for the rest of your life.

July 25, 2011

Auto Theft: On Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle (UUV) and Receiving Stolen Property Charges in Washington, DC

car lock.jpgAs a Washington, DC criminal defense attorney, one type of case that I handle involves the various charges related to a stolen car. One of the most serious charges is unauthorized use of a vehicle (UUV). It is very difficult for the government to prove that the defendant was the person who actually stole a car so they generally go with the UUV charge. This basically means that you were driving a vehicle without the owner's permission. It does not matter if you originally stole the car or obtained it from the person who did. Some people may think this is a minor charge like "joy ridding," but UUV is a serious felony charge in Washington, DC punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to five years of imprisonment.

Another charge that usually goes with UUV is receiving stolen property. The Washington, DC Metropolitan Police (MPD) will typically charge the driver with receiving stolen property (the car). This DC stolen car charge requires proof that the defendant knew, or should reasonably have known that he car was stolen. This is easier to prove if the car is hotwired or the ignition is "punched." If the stolen property (car) is worth $1,000 or more, the charge is a felony punishable by a maximum of seven years in prison and a $5000 fine. If the stolen property is worth less than $1,000, the crime is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

Unfortunately, some of my clients also were found with drugs and guns in the car at the time of their arrest. As I have discussed in previous entries, a defendant in this situation could be charged with additional felonies such as carrying a pistol without a license (CPWL), possession with intent to distribute (PWID) a controlled substance, PWID while armed, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime or dangerous offense. This is reason that auto theft is treated so seriously in the District of Columbia is that a stolen car may be used to commit more dangerous offenses. It should be noted that many of the cars stolen are older models with less sophisticated security systems. According to a recent story in the Washington Post, car theft is down in Washington, DC because new cars have ignition systems that are virtually impossible to hotwire.

Continue reading "Auto Theft: On Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle (UUV) and Receiving Stolen Property Charges in Washington, DC" »

June 30, 2011

Two Washington, DC Suspects Were Arrested on Motor Vehicle Theft and other Charges, after Allegedly Stealing a Scooter.

Red Scooter.jpgAccording to a police news release in Tacoma Park, two Washington, DC men were arrested for motor vehicle theft, malicious destruction of property, conspiracy, and other charges for allegedly stealing a scooter. Police are reporting that after responding to the reported theft, they saw two men on a red scooter that fit the description of the one stolen. The two men attempted to flee on the scooter, and then on foot, until a police K9 was released. The two men quickly surrendered. The two suspects were later identified as Vyron Alexander Cox, and a 16-year old juvenile, also of Washington, DC.

It is not uncommon for Washington, DC criminal defense attorneys to handle cases involving motor vehicle theft charges where the vehicle is not a car. I recently had a felony jury trial in which one of the defendants had a prior conviction for motor vehicle theft for stealing an ATV. The DC Criminal Code defines a motor vehicle basically as having wheels and capable of self-propulsion. A scooter or ATV generally will qualify. While these types of crimes may seem like a joke at the time, they can result in serious felony charges that could cause a lot of trouble later in life. If you have been charged with this or any other type of theft in Washington, DC, it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible so that he can discuss your options, and work toward reducing the extent of any criminal record. It is important to remember than arrest for auto theft is not a conviction.

June 1, 2011

Copper Wire Buried Under Washington, DC Becomes a Target for Thieves: On Theft Charges

copper_wire.jpgAccording to a statement by the Washington, DC Department of Transportation, "On at least four occasions in recent weeks, thieves have removed electrical wire from underground conduits along city streets." The Washington Post has reported that thieves may be posing as contractors and actually setting up work zones to provide cover for the theft. The thefts have occurred throughout Washington, DC and involve digging the wire up from a grass median. Half-inch diameter copper wire is valued at approximately $1000 per 1000 feet. This would likely make the crime felony theft in DC.

As a Washington, DC theft lawyer, I would like to discuss felony theft in greater detail. The DC Criminal Code defines theft as wrongfully obtaining or using the property of another with intent to deprive the other of a right to the property or to take the property for his or her own use. "Wrongfully obtains" basically means that you did not have permission to take the property. If the value of stolen property is $1,000 or more, this first degree theft charge is a felony punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. If the value of Stolen Property is less than $1,000, this second degree theft charge is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

There are many possible defenses to a DC theft charge. One thing your attorney can discuss with you is getting an appraisal of the property. The police sometimes use an estimate much higher than the actual cost of the goods or services so that they will have a stronger case. Requesting an independent appraisal can sometimes help a great deal to improve your situation. This is also true with DC drug charges where the police use estimates of the street value of various controlled substances that may be much higher than the actual cost on the street.