As criminal defense attorneys in Arkansas, we've seen many cases involving theft charges. Unfortunately, we've also seen many people who are misinformed about the law and their rights when it comes to theft charges. In this article, we'll dispel some of the most common misconceptions about Arkansas theft charges.
1. Theft charges only apply to stealing physical property.
Many people assume that theft charges only apply to stealing physical property, such as money or merchandise. However, Arkansas law defines theft as the unlawful taking of another person's property or services with the intent to deprive them of it permanently or temporarily. This can include intangible property, such as trade secrets, as well as services, such as cable or internet.
2. You can't be charged with theft if you didn't intend to keep the stolen property.
Intent is a key element in theft charges, but it's not the only element. In Arkansas, you can still be charged with theft even if you didn't intend to keep the stolen property. For example, if you borrow someone's car without their permission, you could be charged with theft even if you intended to return the car later.
3. Shoplifting is a minor offense.
Shoplifting is a common form of theft, but it's not a minor offense. In Arkansas, the penalties for shoplifting depend on the value of the stolen property. For property valued at less than $1,000, shoplifting is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. For property valued at $1,000 or more, shoplifting is a felony, which can result in more severe penalties.
4. You can't be charged with theft if you take something that was abandoned or lost.
Some people believe that they can take property that was abandoned or lost without consequence. However, in Arkansas, taking property that doesn't belong to you is still considered theft, even if it was abandoned or lost. If you find lost property, you have a legal obligation to try to return it to its rightful owner or turn it over to the authorities.
5. You don't need a lawyer for a theft charge.
Some people believe that they don't need a lawyer for a theft charge, especially if it's their first offense or if they believe they are innocent. However, theft charges can have serious consequences, including fines, jail time, and a criminal record. It's always in your best interest to consult with a criminal defense attorney who can help you understand your rights and options, and who can represent you in court if necessary.
If you're facing a theft charge in Arkansas, it's important to take it seriously and to seek legal advice as soon as possible. At Nelson & Marks PLLC, we have extensive experience defending clients against theft charges, and we're here to help you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and to learn more about how we can assist you.