Taking something without permission is a very general way to describe numerous types of criminal offenses, from embezzlement to burglary. As such, people don't always appreciate the fact that there are many distinct theft-related offenses for which a person may be arrested.
There are also several different elements of a specific case that could lead to additional counts or escalated criminal charges.
- Use of force - A person will face different charges based on whether he or she used force or the threat of force in an alleged theft offense. Use of force can result in harsher charges and potential penalties.
- Having a weapon - Having a weapon -- or pretending to have a weapon -- can also lead to escalated theft charges.
- The amount of goods involved - The threshold for a felony theft charge is $500. If property is valued at or less than $500, it is a misdemeanor; it if is valued at more than $500, it is a felony.
- Fraud - Misrepresenting yourself, having or using someone else's credit card without their permission, filing false financial reports or forging someone else's name on checks can all lead to fraud charges on top of other theft charges.
- Using a computer or a telephone - Using wire communications to commit theft is a federal offense. Instead of facing state-level charges, a person could face federal charges, which are more serious.
Understanding how theft offenses vary and what can make one situation worse than another situation can be crucial if you or a loved one is accused of these crimes in Tennessee. It could help you better understand your legal options as well as any defenses that may be effective in seeking reduced or dismissed charges.