In the State of Washington, there are essentially three ways to be charged with the crime of Theft. The difference in the three charges is strictly determined by the value of the item stolen.

Theft in the Third Degree: This is a gross misdemeanor and punishable by up to a $5,000 fine and up to 364 days in jail. Stolen items or services are valued at less than $750.

Theft in the Second Degree: This is a Class C felony and punishable by up to a $10,000 fine and up to 5 years in jail. Stolen items or services exceed $750 but do not exceed $5,000.

Theft in the First Degree: This is a Class B felony and punishable by up to a $20,000 fine and up to 10 years in jail. Stolen items or services exceed $5,000.

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What seems like a simple Theft charge can quickly turn into a more serious charge or multiple charges.

While Theft is charged as First, Second, or Third Degree, it is possible to be charged with additional crimes that relate to theft. For example, if you stole a watch out of jewelry case, you might be charged with Theft in the Third Degree. However, if you pulled the watch off of your roommate’s hand and won’t give it back (perhaps you feel justified because he hasn’t paid rent), you would have committed the crime of Robbery, a felony. In that case, you committed theft of the watch but you also committed assault by physically removing the watch and that amounts to Robbery. There are other potential charges and special allegations in this scenario but, for simplicity, the point is that the details matter.

Crimes such as Robbery, Burglary, Motor Vehicle Theft, Possession of Stolen Property, Theft of a Firearm, Theft of Livestock, and Extortion are all theft crimes but are charged under different RCWs. When consulting with a criminal defense attorney, be sure to tell your attorney all of the details surrounding the theft so he or she is adequately prepared to defend your unique case. It is critical to know whether you have been properly charged based on the circumstances.

Finally, if the Prosecutor learns of additional facts that include assault or that a weapon was on your person during the commission of the crime, your Theft in the Third Degree charge can become a felony or you can be facing multiple charges. Furthermore, if you contact the person you took the item from (including store clerks), you could be charged with Witness Tampering. Clearly, if you are facing a charge or are under investigation for Theft, it is important that you seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney. In these types of cases, early involvement by an attorney can make a big difference in the outcome of the case.

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The Attorneys at the Witt Law Group have been representing people accused of Theft for over a decade.  We have offices in Gig Harbor and Bremerton for your convenience.  We can be reached 24/7 at (360) 792-1000 (Bremerton), (253) 312-3838 (Gig Harbor) or text us at (360) 710-0027.  

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