If you’ve been charged with a theft crime, it’s important to understand the severity of the charge and the potential minimum sentence you could be facing. An experienced attorney can help you understand your options and the case against you. From there, they can create a defense that helps you to find the least painful available resolution.
Theft crimes come in many shapes and sizes, ranging from misdemeanors to major felonies. The mandatory minimums for theft-related crimes vary from state to state. There are also federal regulations when cases are prosecuted at the federal level.
One example of a mandatory minimum is theft in the state of New York. Thefts of property or money in excess of $1,000,000 are a class B felony. The law specifically mandates that the person serves a prison sentence of at least one to three years, with a maximum potential sentence of twenty-five years. This is true even for those without prior criminal records.
In some states, if a person commits a felony-level theft crime when they have already been convicted of a felony within the prior ten years, they will go to prison. A second felony conviction might mean mandatory prison time even if it’s not related to theft. Even if a person pleads guilty or is convicted following their trial, the judge must still comply with these mandatory minimum laws.
Even when the law doesn’t specifically outline a minimum necessary sentence, a person might still face jail time. This could be anything from a few days in jail to several years in prison.
Sentencing Guidelines vs. Mandatory Minimums
Some statutes outline sentencing guidelines for different degrees of criminal convictions, and some statutes also impose mandatory minimum sentences. These aren’t quite the same thing. In the majority of states, and in cases argued on the federal level, guidelines are considered presumptive. The judge is strongly encouraged to pass sentences based on the guidelines, but they are allowed to make exceptions based on exceptional circumstances.
A mandatory minimum sentence is an extra measure imposed for specific crimes. This measure is a way of more firmly codifying sentences into law. Even if a judge wants to waive the minimum requirement, they can’t when a mandatory sentence is imposed. Judges don’t have the authority to waive specific mandatory minimum sentences. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the case, if the accused is convicted, the mandatory sentence must be imposed. Mandatory sentences must also be imposed on people who have prior felonies within the prior ten years.
In certain circumstances, an accused individual might want to work with the prosecution to negotiate a plea deal. They may plead guilty to a lesser charge with a reduced mandatory minimum sentence, or they may strike a more unique deal with the prosecution. If you want to avoid a mandatory minimum sentence, it’s imperative that your lawyer works with the prosecutor to find a lesser charge with a more reasonable sentence.
Some plea deals might allow you to avoid jail time. It depends on the crime and the case. You might still need to do some jail time, but the amount of time served will typically be shorter with a plea deal than with sentencing after trial.
People who have been convicted of felonies within the prior ten years in certain states will need to serve mandatory jail time if they’re convicted of another felony. People who steal money or property in excess of a million dollars must also serve minimum prison sentences. Even if someone doesn’t meet the criteria for mandatory minimums, they might still be sentenced to prison by a judge.
While your chances of favorable sentencing are better if you offer restitution and have no prior criminal record, you might still end up in prison for a theft crime for multiple years.
Your defense lawyer will likely recommend that you be proactive in taking measures to reduce your sentence. The best ways to do this are by showing remorse, offering to pay restitution, and identifying issues with the case and evidence presented by the prosecution