Alabama Theft Penalties
The consequences of theft charges depend on the classification of the charge, but they have the potential to be extensive and serious. The charges are classified as Class B Felonies, Class C Felonies, Class D Felonies, and Class A Misdemeanors. Class B Felonies are punishable up to 20 years’ imprisonment. Class C Felonies can be punished with up to 10 years’ imprisonment and the D Felonies are punishable with up to 5 years’ incarceration.
The penalties may also include restitution, which is paying the rightful owner the value of the item taken, if the item cannot be returned in the same condition, rehabilitative programs, and/or probation. In order to best defend against Alabama theft penalties, someone facing charges should contact an Alabama theft lawyer who can begin working on their case as soon as possible.
Theft of property in the fourth degree is a Class A Misdemeanor, which means the value of the property is less than $500, but it is still a crime of moral turpitude. Accordingly, if convicted, the person still can lose certain rights so when clients are charged with theft cases, attorneys try to negotiate sentence reductions and/or amendments to other charges that do not have the moral turpitude consequence and subsequent theft penalties.
Alabama theft lawyers have been successful in negotiating reduced charges and arguing for pre-trial diversion, which requires their client to take classes and complete community service, among other requirements that may be set forth, in exchanges for the case being dismissed and withdrawn. Typically, people are interested in retrieving their property so, if the option of returning property is available, attorneys will negotiate for that outcome as well.
Alabama has a habitual offender statute that allows enhanced punishment and theft penalties in Alabama for people with a prior criminal history. Alabama also has sentencing guidelines, which are a departure from the traditional statutory provisions. For example, a Class B Felony cannot be punished with less than two years’ incarceration or more than 20 years. However, under the sentencing guidelines, there is a mechanism that weighs out different factors, one of which is prior criminal history.
One of the consequences of the sentencing guidelines, however, is that judges and prosecutors lose some discretion. There has to be a compelling reason to depart from the guidelines and judges, sometimes find that it is easier to follow the recommended guidelines than sentence outside of those guidelines. Therefore, sentencing in Alabama is complex. This underscores the importance of having an experienced attorney to interpret and argue the guideline consequences.
Working with a Lawyer
A lawyer will try to spend time with their client helping them to understand the law and some of the possible consequences when charged with theft. Additionally, they try to make referrals, if counseling, drug counseling, or marital counseling is needed, because there may be underlying events that triggered the behavior that resulted in the client’s arrest. Once someone speaks to an experienced attorney to begin their case to mitigate their theft penalties in Alabama, they will feel a sense of relief because their attorneys will work hard to get the best possible outcome in their case.