Theft is its own category of crime in Alabama. Numerous actions fall under the definition of theft, including shoplifting, burglary and robbery. While all of these offenses could lead to jail time, fines and other criminal penalties, the consequences for an armed robbery will be quite different than those for embezzlement.
Various factors influence the charges and penalties that someone accused of a theft offense will face in Alabama. Although some theft charges are misdemeanor offenses, a number of circumstances may lead to felony theft charges.
When does Alabama treat a theft offense like a felony?
Property value, special circumstances and specific items lead to felonies
The circumstances of the alleged offense have a direct impact on the charges and therefore the penalties that someone faces. Once the overall value of the property reaches $500, a simple theft charge becomes a felony. This is as true for embezzlement as it is for shoplifting.
Alabama prosecutors can also bring felony charges if the item involved is a motor vehicle, a credit or debit card, a firearm, livestock or controlled substances. Those who cooperate with others to steal and resell items worth $1,000 over a 180-day period could also face felony theft charges, as could those who commit theft crimes in multiple counties in Alabama.
All forms of robbery, ranging from armed and violent robbery to attempted robbery, will lead to felony charges. The charges will depend on the circumstances, like whether force or threats utilized in the robbery involved a deadly weapon. Burglary is also often a felony in Alabama. Even the possession of burglary tools is a Class C felony.
Theft charges require strategic defense planning
Even a Class D felony can mean up to five years in prison, so any felony theft offense requires serious consideration. Given that theft charges come in so many forms, there is no one defense strategy that works for everyone accused of a property or financial crime. Defense options range from providing a verifiable alibi to challenging forensic evidence.
Understanding the laws that apply to the situation and the evidence that the state has allegedly gathered against you can be a good starting place to plan your criminal defense.