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NYC Theft Lawyers

January 2, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys
Theft Crime: Actual Loss v Intended Loss

There are many different types of theft crimes as per the law throughout the United States. One involves actual loss versus intended loss. It’s important to understand what this means.

Intent is one component of a theft crime, but it cannot be the only one. The actual action of the theft crime is also a part of it. If a person intends to commit a crime, yet fails in spite of trying, this alone is insufficient in actually being considered a crime. The action can only be completed if the individual takes the required steps to actually commit the theft or any other type of crime. There must be both a physical action and intent in order to complete a crime.

If a person is convicted of this crime, there are a number of penalties they can face. Those penalties largely depend on the specifics of the action taken. No matter what the situation, if you are arrested for committing a crime, you need an experienced attorney on your side to build a strong defense in your favor. It is the best chance you have at getting the charges against you reduced or even potentially dropped.

Elements of Loss

In order for a person to commit a crime, there must be two key elements in place: the intent to commit it and actually carry out a physical act to commit the crime. After the individual’s arrest and subsequent sentencing in court, to determine the penalties handed down, the court will consider the exact monetary amount that was stolen. In other words, the court will consider the actual financial loss instead of simply that which was intended in an embezzlement case.

For instance, a person may have intended to steal $1 million but only succeeded in stealing $100,000. Even if they intended to take a far greater amount of money than they ultimately stole, the actual loss comes into play and is the determining factor for the amount of prison the individual receives, as well as any other penalties handed down.

At the same time, it’s important to understand that if the defendant’s intent itself may also be counted as a crime. If they carry out certain steps to commit a crime and the intent is to commit embezzlement by stealing a specific amount of money, then the individual can also be charged with attempted embezzlement.

For example, if a person forges a check from another person but that individual catches on and puts a freeze on the check, the forger can still be charged with a crime. In other words, while the actual theft may not have been successful, the individual still had the intent to steal money from the other person. This would be considered a lesser charge, but at the same time, the person would still be charged with a felony if the amount of money they intended to steal was large.

Determining an Estimation of Loss

It should be known that ultimately, in an embezzlement case, the estimation of the intended loss is not as important as the actual amount of money that was lost. The defense attorney can argue that the prosecution may decide any financial amount they want without using any concrete evidence or the actual amount of money that was embezzled in the crime.

Just as with any other type of crime, there must be evidence in the case to back up that the crime actually occurred. It cannot simply be hearsay or an assumption of a specific amount of money that the defendant embezzled. This would equate to the District Attorney failing to provide the defense with proper notice of the nature and extent of the crimes with which they have been charged. The defense is legally entitled to the option of challenging the charge and making restitution.

While it is possible that a mere estimation can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, it is usually relevant during the earlier stages of the case, specifically, during the investigation or arrest. Estimated loss is more important for bail purposes as it can set the stage for the prosecution being able to appeal to a judge so they can get enhanced bail for the defendant.

In addition, estimated loss is essentially irrelevant when the defense makes a plea. The prosecution will want an actual loss so that sentencing can be more appropriate. An attorney is unable to make restitution with an estimated loss. The defendant also cannot accept responsibility for an estimated loss. There must be a concrete dollar amount in place so the sentencing can be effective and appropriate.

Burden of Proof

After someone is charged with any theft crime, the prosecution must be able to prove that the crime occurred. This proof could be shown to a jury of the person’s peers or to a judge depending on the type of crime. One of the things that the prosecution will try to do and is tasked at doing if the case is to move forward is to show that you took items from another without the person’s permission. This is the simple definition of theft. If there is not enough evidence presented, then the case is usually dismissed. One of the things that the prosecution will try to do is show that you either did not know the person you took items from or took items without the person’s knowledge that the activity was occurring. The prosecution also has to prove the value amount of the items that were taken when the theft was committed.

Your attorney can describe the details surrounding the burden of proof that the prosecution needs to meet. If you can show your attorney evidence that you did not commit the crime, then a defense can be presented showing that you are not guilty of the charges. However, these details need to go against any details that the prosecution claims to be able to prove in court.

When the prosecution presents your case in court, it needs to show that there was an intent of some kind when the theft was committed. If you accidentally took something without intending to take it, then the prosecution would not be able to deliver the burden of proof needed in court. Another defense that you could discuss with your attorney is that you believed the items that you took were yours. If you have proof that the items are yours when you go to court, then you’ll usually be allowed to keep them without being charged with the theft of the items.

At times, the prosecution could prove that you added money to a bank account that wasn’t yours and that you were using or that you added money to an account that you didn’t set up in the proper manner. Another detail that the prosecution could show in court would be that there is an abnormal amount of spending on a credit card that circles back to possessions that you now own. Since there are specific details that need to be presented in court, your attorney needs to be able to examine all of the evidence while having a clear understanding of the laws in the state that surround theft. Your attorney can discuss possible defenses with you that could reduce your charges or have them dismissed if you’re able to show that you did not intentionally take the items that you’re accused of taking.

If you’re charged with theft or embezzlement, then the prosecution can offer various types of evidence to show that you intended to commit the crime. Examples of items that can be presented in court include invoices that have been changed, records of receipts and checks that have not been filed properly or that have been altered, and records of cash advances where the money has been deposited into an account that you own or that you have access to for withdrawing money. Once this evidence has been submitted, the prosecution will review the information and monitor details pertaining to accounts to see if there is any abnormal activity. The prosecution will also examine how much money is taken and where it’s going.

If there is no clear bank account involved, then the prosecution could ask to see credit card records, utility statements, or car records to determine where the money has been spent. If you are charged with taking money or items from someone, then these details will be presented in court before your attorney offers a defense as to whether you knew about the activity and your role in taking the money if you were involved. If there is someone else who has access to an account where money has been deposited, then your attorney can sometimes use that as a defense, negating the burden of proof offered by the prosecution in court.

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Common Misconceptions

There are a number of common misconceptions that occur regarding theft crimes. Multiple theft crimes are outlined in statutes on both a state and federal level. These can include everything from petty theft to embezzlement. It’s important to understand misconceptions about these crimes and to talk to an experienced lawyer if you believe you may be suspected of a theft crime.

Embezzlement Misconceptions

One of the most prevalent misconceptions about embezzlement is that it is a white-collar crime that doesn’t have any victims. Many perpetrators say that they rationalized the crime to themselves by telling themselves that insurance would reimburse the damages. But embezzlement can cause serious problems and even ruin people’s lives. If you’ve been accused of embezzlement, you need to understand the ramifications of the crime and talk to your lawyer about how to create the best possible defense.

There are other common rationalizations that people use as well. In addition to telling themselves that insurance will take care of it, they might think that ongoing theft isn’t an issue if no one ever notices it, and that no one will ever be hurt. But this isn’t accurate.

People who have their money stolen through embezzlement crimes can sometimes have serious life impacts. This is especially true if the money isn’t recovered. There’s no guarantee that insurance will reimburse the stolen money, so if they don’t get it back, they’ll have lost a lot. The person who committed the crime will do time behind bars and pay a fine, but the person who was stolen from might lose their life savings, their livelihood, their home, or their ability to provide for their family. They might not be able to buy groceries, pay their rent, or meet their day-to-day financial needs.

There’s a big misconception in embezzlement crimes that taking small amounts of money won’t have any impact on a physician, hedge fund, trust, bank, or other wealthy entity. Even though the business or entity might continue to operate seemingly unharmed, any negative loss has a serious effect on the company or entity’s ability to function.

The damage inflicted and the loss to the entity has a big impact on sentencing. For this reason, if you’re facing any kind of embezzlement allegation, it’s vital that you talk to an attorney to figure out the scope of the problem.

Embezzlement isn’t a crime that just makes numbers have issues on paper. There’s also an impact on real humans. The worse the impact to individual people, the worse the sentencing tends to be for the perpetrator. If you’ve been accused of embezzlement, your accuser might say that their business is bankrupt due to your impact. The accuser might also go into detail about the specific impact that the crime had on themselves, their employees, and their family.

These cases can become very emotional, and emotion has a big sway in the courtroom. A DA who hears from individuals affected by the crime tends to be harsher. If people impress upon the DA that they feel violated, have ongoing negative life impacts, and had their trust maliciously broken, the DA will be much less likely to view the accused with sympathy.

The on-paper numbers don’t matter as much as the human impact. The damage to the other person will have a much bigger impact in court and sentencing than the exact dollar figure stolen. If you defraud a family of their children’s college fund and retirement funds, for example, the lasting impact of this is more gutwrenching than stealing a million dollars from an extremely successful billion-dollar corporation.

If you’ve been accused of embezzlement, it’s not just about the numbers. You need to be aware that you will be facing the human element of the crime. You and your lawyer can talk about whether the best option is to explain away, minimize, or confront the human element as part of your defense.

Credit Card Fraud Misconceptions

There are a ton of credit card scams that people run to try to get sensitive financial information. Many misconceptions abound regarding the specifics of this crime. Like with embezzlement, one of the most common misconceptions is that the crime is victimless. You might believe that the credit card company will reimburse the individual, or that taking just a few dollars won’t impact anyone, or that finding a credit card isn’t the same as stealing.

People often rationalize their behavior while they’re doing it. When they get caught, they may be surprised to face the consequences of their actions. Credit card fraud can have a serious impact on the victims, especially if they didn’t have a lot of money to begin with. It can cause their bank account to become overdrafted, them to go into debt, and for their credit score to be negatively impacted.

Best Defenses for Theft Crimes in New York

Anyone charged with theft in New York needs a proper defense when they appear in court. Without a defense to the crime, expect a conviction and the worst possible outcome, especially if it isn’t your first theft charge or if you have a lengthy criminal record. Theft charges can be charged as misdemeanors or felony charges, depending on the value of the items taken. Consequences of a theft conviction can range from time in jail to years in prison, fines, and a tarnished name. Once you’re charged with theft, get on the phone with a criminal defense lawyer. Retain a lawyer and get the best defense when it’s time to appear in court.

The Consequences of a Theft Conviction

Theft convictions are permanently displayed on your criminal record for the remainder of your life. Anyone with an interest can access the information where they’ll quickly form an impression of you with the little information available to them. Oftentimes, employers run background checks on individuals before hiring them. A theft conviction considerably reduces the odds you’ll be selected for the job. People with theft convictions may also find it difficult to rent a home or go to college and earn a professional license.

Defenses to a Theft Charge

Lawyers understand what it takes to defend a person against theft charges in a court of law. They are familiar with all of the laws, the New York Penal Code, and defense strategies possible in a theft case. They listen to the facts of the case and determine a defense strategy that works in the matter. Even when you think that a defense strategy doesn’t apply to your case, lawyers coming to surprise you and find a way to work it into your case. Lawyers help their clients get the best outcome in a theft case.

Some of the most common defenses to a theft charge include:

– You Didn’t Mean to Take the Property: As silly as this may sound initially, it’s quite common for a person to accidentally take items. Whether the item was accidentally put inside of a pocket or other circumstances create a situation where you didn’t mean to take the property, the lawyer can help.
– Its Your Property: In many situations, it’s unclear who actually owns the property. It is the prosecution’s job to prove that theft occurred. When proof of ownership is unattainable, the prosecution may not have a case. A lawyer can examine the case facts to determine if his strategy applies to your case.
– Entrapment: Entrapment occurs when a person commits a crime under the direct order of another person who has essentially threatened them in some way.
– Under the Influence: Admitting that you were under the influence at the time a theft takes place is sometimes a risky move, but lawyers make sure the defense works in your case. If you’re under the influence, you may have thought the items were your own. It’s also difficult to prove intent when a person is under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
– Borrowed Property: Sometimes we borrow things and forget to return the items to their rightful owner. Anger sometimes leads to criminal charges in such an instance. If you can prove that you intended to return the item, you may have found your defense.

Lawyers listen to all of the facts of your case. They examine evidence and talk to witnesses. Once they’ve compiled all of this information, they determine the best defense strategy in your case. The possible defenses above are among the many strategies that a criminal defense lawyer can use to lessen the likelihood of a conviction

Contact a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney

Although many defenses to theft are possible for someone facing this criminal charge, it takes a skilled attorney to put together the best case. Lawyers offer free consultations to individuals facing theft charges who also want the best outcome in their case. Schedule a consultation to learn more about the benefits a lawyer brings to your case and defense strategy. Far too much is on the line in your life to answer a theft charge without the help of a great defense strategy and attorney. Do not go to court without a legal expert by your side.

NYC Theft Crime Lawyers: Compelling Evidence

Different states have different laws regarding crimes and their sentencing. There are also unique federal guidelines for crimes that are prosecuted on a federal level. Sentencing guidelines are a state or federal government’s way of outlining the minimum and maximum potential penalties for committing a crime. Minimum sentencing is codified into the law books to keep judges from under-sentencing for serious crimes. A judge cannot give a sentence that’s lower than the minimum legally outlined penalty.

This helps to limit the amount of power that judges have in the court system. What judges can decide, though, is where in the sentencing range that a person falls. Sentencing will vary widely from case to case. It is affected by a variety of circumstances including the impact on the victim, the criminal history of the accused, and the conduct of the accused during the case. Your best chance of mitigating your sentence is to hire an experienced embezzlement attorney who can examine the facts of the case and present the most compelling possible defense.

When There Aren’t Sentencing Guidelines

The judge can’t deviate from guidelines laid down in state or federal law. To deviate from the sentencing guidelines, a person would need to strike a plea deal with the district attorney, or they’d need to get the case dismissed. Plea deals might be struck in a variety of cases including:

  • The accused made a mistake but is ultimately a well-intentioned person
  • The accused made restitution to the victim of the crime
  • The prosecution does not have a strong enough case to be confident they’ll get a conviction
  • The defense attorney has challenged the evidence substantially enough that the prosecution feels they may not get a conviction

In these cases, the deals are made with the prosecutor rather than the judge. An experienced defense attorney can help to navigate these plea deals and discuss the options.

Value of Stolen Property or Money as Evidence

When you’ve been accused of a theft crime like stealing property or money, the prosecution will need to provide a value of the stolen property as compelling evidence. The prosecutor will need to show the ways that they used to determine the value of the stolen property. They will also need to provide all the documentation possible to show that the individual in question was the one who stole the property.

A defense attorney should pay careful attention to these statements. They should double check the valuation of property and make sure that the prosecution is accurately estimating it. They should also examine all the documentation and determine whether it is all truly relevant to their client. When the prosecution presents this evidence in court, the defense attorney can ask that they specifically explain how each piece of documentation is related to the defendant.

Fraud Committed by the Victim

There are some cases where a person will be accused of stealing, but there was actually fraud committed by the victim. In some circumstances, the accused might have actually stolen, but not the amount that the victim says. For example, someone may steal five hundred dollars from the safe at work. But their boss might then take a few thousand dollars out of the safe and accuse the individual of having stolen several thousand dollars.

If you suspect that you’re being framed for a crime you didn’t commit, it’s vital that you bring your concern up to your defense attorney. They will examine the evidence and decide how best to integrate this into your defense. Don’t bring your concerns to law enforcement unless your attorney instructs you to. They are not working for you right now, and accusing your accuser needs to be done delicately.

In cases where you can provide compelling evidence that the company or accuser is lying to cover up their own fraud, this will often poke enough holes in a case to get the charges dropped entirely. It may also spark a new investigation into the accuser.

Burden of Proof

In the United States, the law operates on an assumption that a person is innocent until they’re proven guilty. That means that the burden of proof is entirely on the prosecution. Not only must they prove that you committed a crime, but they must also provide evidence and documentation showing that you committed the crime. The evidence can’t just place you in the same general vicinity in which a crime was being committed. To reach a conviction, a person must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to have intentionally committed the crime in question.

If the prosecution can’t prove a larger crime, they will sometimes bring lesser charges against a person that are easier to prove. Talk to your lawyer about the best defense for your case.

NYC Theft Lawyers: Theft Crime Loss Estimation

When a theft crime like embezzlement is being sentenced, the actual loss is what’s relevant to the sentencing. Actual loss is the value of what was actually stolen. The intended loss doesn’t have an impact on the sentencing. If a person intended to steal more than they did, that doesn’t matter unless they made an active attempt to steal more. Conversely, if a person intended to give the money back or didn’t intend to steal as much as they did, that doesn’t matter. All that matters is the impact.

The charge brought against you in a theft crime is chiefly determined by the loss. The loss will determine whether the crime is a misdemeanor or felony. It will also determine the class of felony or misdemeanor and the degree of criminal behavior. All of these factors combined will bring you to minimum and maximum sentencing guidelines written in the law books. A judge will choose the sentence from somewhere in this sentencing range.

If you’ve been accused of a theft crime, it’s important to talk to a theft attorney as soon as possible. They can examine the evidence of the case and determine whether the amount of loss you’ve been accused of is accurate. From there, they can create a strategic defense to mitigate the charges and potential sentencing.

Monetary Value of Loss

The monetary value of loss will first determine what class of misdemeanor or felony the theft is:

  • Class E felony: Theft larger than $1,000
  • Class D felony: Theft larger than $3,000
  • Class C felony: Theft larger than $50,000
  • Class B felony: Theft larger than $1,000,000

For a class E felony, the prison sentence is anywhere from one and one third to four years. For a class D felony, the prison sentence ranges from two and one third to seven years in prison. For a class C felony, the prison sentence ranges from five to fifteen years in prison. A class B felony has a minimum prison sentence of eight years, and a maximum potential sentence of twenty-five years.

Criminal Possession of Stolen Property

If you possess stolen money or property, this is considered a crime by itself. The charge brought against you would be criminal possession of stolen property. In these cases, the classes and degrees of the offense remain the same with regards to loss amounts.

Criminally possessing stolen property in the fourth, third, second, or first degree is a felony similar to theft-related felonies. The difference is that the person who possesses the property doesn’t need to have actually committed the theft. They just need to be aware that they are intentionally possessing stolen property. Someone can be charged with possession and not theft, or theft and not possession. Some people might also have both charges brought against them.

Reasonable Doubt and Potential Loss

Actual loss is what matters to a theft case. This is the amount of money or property that was actually, measurably lost. When property was stolen, the prosecution will create an estimation of the loss based on the value of the property. The potential loss might also play a role in the prosecution’s case and the judge’s ruling.

Potential loss is loss that a company or person might have sustained due to the crime, but that cannot be proven through documentation. Potential loss tends to be part of a prosecution’s case if the number is much higher than the amount of loss that can be concretely proven.

Potential loss can’t be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Because of this, the accused cannot be convicted of having stolen that amount. A good defense lawyer will poke holes in a prosecutor’s unproven loss analysis. However, discussion of potential loss can color a judge and jury’s opinion on the case. The prosecution may place emotional weight on the potential loss even if they can’t prove it on paper.

When potential loss is introduced in a case, it affects how the judge views the amount that was stolen, the property that was stolen, and the way in which it was stolen. The defendant must be prepared to be confronted by potential loss. During plea negotiations, potential loss will often be part of what’s discussed. Embezzlement lawyers are well-versed in how to build a case using both facts and emotional weight. They can consider the prosecution’s argument and the facts of your case to create a defense that mitigates your potential sentence.

Addressing Estimation of Loss

An estimation of loss is done in a theft crime to determine the degree of the crime. However, the prosecution must have all the documentation to prove that their estimation is reasonable. A good embezzlement lawyer will double-check and question the estimation to make sure all the facts are straight.

NYC Theft Offenses

There are a few details that your attorney will want to review with you after being charged with a crime involving theft. There are several offenses that you could be charged with that result in various consequences, many that can impact the rest of your life whether it’s your personal relationships to your employment.

Some of the most common theft offenses include forgery, tax crimes, and shoplifting. Some could be considered misdemeanors while others could be considered a felony. There are also theft offenses that could be considered federal crimes, which means that you would need to face a judge in multiple courts. The consequences for federal theft crimes and felonies are often much more severe than those associated with misdemeanors, but even with misdemeanors, you’re going to need to deal with the issue being on your criminal background for years to come. There are some charges that can stand alone in court and that can be attached to other crimes. These include grand larceny as you could be charged with embezzlement or forging business records with the charge of larceny depending on the circumstances involved in the crime. Your attorney will understand how the charges are arranged and the details that need to be presented in court so that you appear in the best light possible.

If you’ve been charged with a theft offense, then it’s usually because you’ve taken the property of someone else. This could be money or material possessions that you take without the owner’s permission. Even if you attempt to remove property from another, then you could be charged with a theft offense. The intent behind the act committed will often play a factor in the sentencing phase when you go to court. If there was no clear indication that you intended to commit theft, then you might not face a severe consequence or if you were acting under the command of another person. The value of the items that are taken also plays a factor in how your sentenced. Grand larceny often involves taking items that are valued over a certain amount, such as over $1,500. However, this value is dependant on the state where the crime occurred.

When you go to court dealing with theft offenses, you need to understand that you’re going to need to present evidence to the judge or jury regarding your guilt or innocence. If you have an alibi or evidence that indicates that you had nothing to do with the crime, then your attorney can present these details in the court in order to decrease the time that you could have to spend in jail or reduce the charges that you’re facing. Sometimes, the charges could be dismissed altogether if your attorney can present enough evidence to suggest that you didn’t commit the theft. After defeating a series of charges, you could have another left in play that needs to be dealt with that could result in going to jail even though you weren’t sentenced from the other charges. Your attorney will likely warn you about the way that theft offenses are classified and the possible ramifications of these classifications so that you’re prepared when you go to court.

One of the benefits of working with an attorney is that defenses can be crafted to try to reduce your felony charges to a misdemeanor or have them dismissed so that you don’t have the charges on your record and so that you don’t have to endure the sentence that is given. If there is an indication that you could get treatment of some kind for the offenses that you’ve committed, then this is often an option that the court will consider. Sometimes, you might need to plead to the charges in order for a minimal sentence to be issued, such as treatment or probation. The court will usually consider your criminal history and how you’ve presented yourself in court before determining if this type of sentence would be the best option for your situation. It’s beneficial if you have ties to the community or a job as this can show that you are trying to be successful and that you want to get the help needed for your actions.

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