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Tennessee theft of property laws

Posted October 10, 2013Lee Martin - Shoplifting

Theft is a generic term used to describe common law crimes that involved dishonesty such as larceny or fraud.  In fact, Tennessee law codified these terms under a generic umbrella of theft under the 1989 Tennessee Criminal Reform Act.  Regardless of what color the rose maybe colored, theft is a serious crime under Tennessee law.  If you have been charged with theft under Tennessee law, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.  Like any other criminal offense, time is of the essence when developing your defense.  Theft charges can be successfully defended regardless of the facts of your case.  This is especially true if you are a first time offender.  Many first time offender theft cases are eligible for diversion under Tennessee law.   This program allows an offender to enter a conditional guilty plea and later have their record expunged after the successful completion of probation.

Tennessee penalties for theft

Just like any other area of the law, theft charges and their results usually depend upon the facts that surround your case and a successful defense will help mitigate any negative aspects of your case.  For example, shoplifting charges involving less than $500.00 worth of merchandise are classified as a misdemeanor charge as well as other theft charges that also involve less than $500.00.  On the other hand, theft charges involving amounts of $500.00 or greater are classified as a felony.  The courts will also look at your prior criminal history with an eye toward prior convictions for theft.  Prior convictions for theft will definitely be used against you in court.  The courts will also look to issues of restitution if you actually stole the merchandise and walked away with it.  Restitution is usually the primary issue of concern for the courts when merchandise is either stolen or destroyed through theft.  Restitution is also an important concern when money is stolen.  The sooner restitution is made the better the accused will be in future court proceedings.

Obviously, the penalties for felony are greater than those of a misdemeanor.  However, both crimes are considered a crime of dishonesty and could affect your future ability to earn a living.  Many corporations and the government will automatically disqualify a candidate who has a theft conviction on their permanent record.  All theft crimes carry the possibility of jail time, probation, community service, and heavy fines.  If you are charged with a felony, the penalty for theft increases with the dollar amount of the money or goods stolen.   Depending upon the amount of money involved, felony theft charges could carry up to twenty five years in jail. 

Theft does not have to always involve the theft of property.  Under Tennessee law, theft can also be charged for the value of services stolen.  For example if a mechanic fixes your car and you refuse to pay for the services rendered, you could be charged with theft of services.  Theft of services charged are graded by the amount of money or services that are stolen.

If you need help with a Tennessee theft charge, give Lee Martin a call at 615-345-1988.  He has over 16 years of experience and knows how to get results in criminal theft cases.

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