Theft – Analysis of Theft Laws

Respected Birmingham Criminal Defense Lawyer Skillfully Defending Individuals Charged with Misdemeanor and Felony Theft Crimes

Theft is the single most common crime in Alabama.  Because of this, law enforcement and prosecutors take an aggressive approach to the investigation and prosecution of theft crimes. In fact, theft-related arrests make up about 85 percent of all Alabama arrests. However, being arrested for theft doesn’t make you guilty; it’s up to the State to prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt before a judge or jury can return a conviction. And, with the help of an experienced Birmingham theft crimes defense attorney, it may never get to that point.

At the Stoves Law Firm, P.C. we are dedicated to defending the rights and freedoms of clients facing serious theft crimes, including theft of property. We understand the best theft defenses, when they apply, and how to present them in the most compelling way possible. If you’ve been arrested for theft of property in Birmingham, reach out to the Stoves Law Firm, P.C., to schedule a free consultation.

How Does Alabama Law Define Theft?

In Alabama, theft is defined as the unlawful taking of someone else’s property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property. Thus, theft includes physically taking someone else’s property without their permission, as well as relying on deception to gain control of the property.

It’s important to understand that the key element of any theft crime is the intent behind the action. If you take something with the plan not to return it, or if you manipulate or deceive someone to gain control of their property, that may constitute theft. This can include acts as simple as shoplifting or as complex as embezzlement. However, taking someone’s property with the intent to return it doesn’t rise to the level of theft.

Property Theft Crimes in Alabama

The Alabama Code contains several different theft crimes, including the following:

First Degree Theft: Involves property valued over $2,500 or theft directly from another person. First-degree theft of property is a Class B felony, punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison (Ala. Code § 13A-8-3).

Second Degree Theft: Involves property valued between $1,500 and $2,500. Second-degree theft of property is a Class C felony, carrying a penalty of 1 to 10 years in prison (Ala. Code § 13A-8-4).

Third-Degree Theft: Involves property valued between $500 and $1,500. Third-degree theft of property is a Class D felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison (Ala. Code § 13A-8-4.1).

Theft of Services: This offense occurs when services (like hotel accommodations, a bar tab, or a restaurant bill) are obtained by deception, threat, or other unlawful means without payment. If the value of the services exceeds $2,500, theft of services can be treated like first-degree theft; if the amount is less, the punishment decreases accordingly (Ala. Code § 13A-8-10).

Shoplifting: In Alabama, the crime of shoplifting is treated like theft of property, with penalties based on the retail value of the merchandise taken (Ala. Code § 13A-8-10).

Theft of Lost Property: If someone finds lost property and keeps it with knowledge of its ownership without attempting to return it, it may constitute theft of lost property. The degree of the charge depends on the value of the item (Ala. Code § 13A-8-6).

Receiving Stolen Property: Knowingly buying, receiving, or concealing stolen property is treated similarly to theft of property, with penalties based on the value of the property (Ala. Code § 13A-8-17).

Defending Against a Theft Crime

If you’re facing a theft crime charge in Birmingham, Alabama, it’s essential to understand your defense options to effectively protect your rights. The approach our Birmingham theft crimes lawyer takes will vary, depending on the specifics of your case.

For example, one of the best theft crime defenses is lack of intent. Theft requires intent to permanently deprive the owner of their property. If you can demonstrate that there was no intent to steal—perhaps you believed the property was yours or you intended to return it—this could be a viable defense.

Another possible defense is mistake of fact, which is based on a genuine belief that you had the right to the property or were otherwise mistaken about a crucial fact that negates the theft’s “intent” element.

If you can prove the property was abandoned or that you had the owner’s consent to use or take it, these defenses can also prevent the prosecution from securing a conviction.

Finally, although rare, duress is another defense if you committed the theft under immediate threat of harm, making your actions non-voluntary. Similarly, entrapment occurs when law enforcement induces you to commit a crime you would not have otherwise committed.

Regardless of the facts of your case, working with an experienced Birmingham criminal defense attorney who understands the nuances of Alabama theft laws is crucial.

Get Started Working on Your Defense by Setting Up a Free Consultation with the Stoves Law Firm, P.C.

If you are currently facing theft charges in Birmingham or elsewhere in Jefferson, Shelby or Tuscaloosa County, the Stoves Law Firm, P.C. is here to help. With more than 20 years of hands-on experience helping clients defend against all types of theft charges, Attorney Jason Stoves has the knowledge, dedication, and skill necessary to secure the best possible result in your case. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call the Stoves Law Firm, P.C. at (205) 823-7233, or you can connect with us through our secure online contact form.

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