In Washington state, there are about 50 statutes that relate to theft crimes. From theft of livestock to extortion, theft of subscription television services to shopping cart theft, many types of theft are addressed with specificity. However, most theft charges can be boiled down to one of three different courses of action.
Types of Theft in Washington State
The State of Washington defines theft in one of three different ways.
- Wrongfully obtaining (in other words, “taking”) or exercising control without authorization over another person's property or services and intending on depriving the rightful owner of their property or services. An example of this type of theft is going to the grocery store, putting groceries in a bag, and leaving without paying for the groceries.
- Using deception to obtain control over property or services of another with the intent of depriving the rightful owner of their property or service. An example of this type of theft is going to the grocery store with another person's debit card, representing to the store clerk that they are the legitimate owner of the debit card, and then using that debit card to pay for the groceries.
- Taking control of lost or misdelivered property or services of another, with the intent to deprive the rightful owner of their property or services. An example of this type of theft is coming home to your apartment, seeing your neighbor's misdelivered groceries at your door, and bringing the groceries into your house for your use.
Defenses to Theft
There is a defense to theft, but it is limited. This defense is only available if a person takes something that doesn't belong to them but does so openly and because they truly believed they had a legal claim to the property or service. An example of this is coming home to your apartment, seeing your neighbor's misdelivered groceries at your door, and bringing them inside because you believe your spouse ordered those groceries.
Consequences of Theft
The consequences for theft range from a Class A felony to a misdemeanor offense.
- A Class A felony can lead to a term of life in prison, as well as a fine of up to $50,000.
- Misdemeanors, on the other hand, are punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The consequence for the theft is a matter of degree. For example, pointing a gun at the store clerk as a way to ensure you get the groceries without paying for them can elevate a misdemeanor theft into a Class A robbery.
Facing Theft Charges in Washington State?
If you are facing theft charges, call Vinny Randhawa. Vinny represents people charged with crimes in Seattle or anywhere throughout Pierce County, King County, and Snohomish County. Vinny understands facing criminal charges can be stressful. He makes himself available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to talk to people who have questions about their criminal charges. Call his office any time at (425) 228-2202.