What are the different types of theft charges that people may have to deal with?
Retail fraud in the third degree is shoplifting of anything under $200, second degree retail fraud is $200 to $1,000 worth of merchandise. Anything over $1,000 can be a felony and that’s either anything over $1,000 or people with prior offenses that are having an enhanced charge brought against them. That pretty much covers all of the shoplifting charges. In addition to that, the kind of theft crimes that we usually see are larceny from a building, larceny from an automobile, unlawful driving away of an automobile, breaking and entering with intent to steal, embezzlement or conversion. Those are usually the theft crime felonies we see and they usually start off as felonies.
What does conversion mean?
It’s basically like embezzlement but instead it generally involves property. The person starts off with rightful possession of the property or consent to have the property, but then doesn’t give it back. One example may be- you rented a cleaning machine and you took it home, but didn’t return it back.
What about illegal credit card usage or someone’s misusing a card or using a credit card that does not belong to them, what would that be considered?
The use of a credit card for financial transaction is also a felony. You also have a situation where someone has a bad check and that’s called Uttering and Publishing which is also a felony. Those are financial fraud related crimes and often times those crimes can be difficult for the prosecutor to prove depending upon their evidence. They sometimes provide opportunities for the defense to obtain good results and get the case dismissed.
Is that what they refer to as Theft by Deception, when it’s fraudulent or something that they would accuse someone of making some sort of scam or something like that?
Yes. Those are sort of theft by deception. More often what we’re talking about with those types of crimes is where it was some sort of a scam; such as a door-to-door scam, or ripping-off old people, or tricking them into giving money when there’s really nothing being provided for the money. Those are usually more of what people are talking about with theft by deception, but all the fraud in theft crimes involve somewhat of an element of deception.
What about theft by extortion? What are some examples of that?
Typically, extortion charges involve threatening somebody with some sort of trouble. For example, “if you don’t give me a $1,000, I am going to turn you into the police for possession of child pornography” or something that implies they will get in trouble if they do not comply. Such as someone who blackmails and says, “Do what I want or else something bad is going to happen to you”.