White Collar Crime – Theft 

Theft refers to taking or using property that belongs to another person or entity. Though it’s usually charged at the state level, white-collar theft can, under certain circumstances, become a federal case.

If you’ve been charged with theft, it’s serious. Federal theft, especially, carries the threat of both a significant prison sentence and a hefty fine. So, hiring a lawyer is crucial to navigating complex theft charges.

What are Theft Charges? 

Theft is a simple concept. It means that you’ve taken something that doesn’t belong to you and have no intent to return it, whether that be a car or a candy bar. Theft charges can also refer to stealing a service, like internet access or electricity.

Most theft cases are charged at a state level because most thefts have to do with individuals or state bodies. If someone robs a home, for example, or steals from a retail store, the charges will likely be brought forward in a state court.

However, in certain circumstances, the federal government gets involved.

The term federal theft implies that you’ve stolen from the federal government, whether that be through lying on your taxes or stealing a piece of government property. But, that’s not always the case. Technically, if you were to do any of the following, you could be charged with federal theft:

  • Committed theft on federal government property 
  • Committed a theft offense that crossed state lines
  • Committed some form of theft online 
  • Committed theft on international waters
  • Committed theft on or from a tribal reservation 

The federal government recognizes over 100 different forms of larceny or theft, including theft by fraud, tricking someone else into stealing for you, and theft by directly taking property. That means theft charges cover a broad range. Some examples of theft include:

  • Shoplifting
  • Issuing a bad check
  • Credit card fraud
  • Counterfeiting
  • Tax evasion
  • Antitrust violations
  • Embezzlement 
  • Internet fraud 

Why Is Theft Considered a White Collar Crime?

Though theft can refer to stealing physical property through burglary or robbery, it’s likely to refer to something like broker embezzlement or fraud on a federal level.

Broker embezzlement refers to brokers who steal directly from clients through document forging, unauthorized trading, or other means. Fraud refers to obtaining something of monetary value through deception.

Both are examples of white-collar theft because they’re typically non-violent and financially motivated.

However, theft crimes are far from victimless despite their non-violent nature. Take, for example, the infamous Bernie Madoff case, in which Mr. Madoff famously committed numerous frauds using a multi-million dollar pyramid scheme. When the scheme collapsed, many of his clients lost their life savings.

That means theft trials are often heated and involve severe penalties. Government agencies like the FBI have near endless resources and are often relentless in pursuing white-collar theft. They don’t like to make accusations that they can’t bring to a conviction, so, non-violent or not, they take theft seriously.

How a Lawyer Can Help

When the government accuses you of fraud, embezzlement, or some other theft charge, it’s crucial to hire a lawyer.

If you’ve been charged with theft of any kind, a lawyer can help you prepare a defense. They’ll look through the details of your specific case and create a strategy to respond.

They may be able to show, for example, that you weren’t the one to commit the crime or that you didn’t intend to steal. Or, they could show that there wasn’t enough evidence to charge you with the case in the first place. A knowledgeable lawyer may also be able to show your constitutional rights were violated during the arrest.

Regardless of how they do it, a lawyer can make a positive difference in a federal theft case. Going without one could leave you caught in a tangle of laws and government policies.

Protecting Yourself From Theft Charges

Being charged with theft, especially federal theft, isn’t something to make light of. Federal theft charges typically come with long prison sentences and significant fines.

Theft charges cover a broad range of crimes, from tax evasion to investment fraud, and the government doesn’t take any of them lightly. They pursue them relentlessly and don’t like making accusations until they believe they can guarantee a conviction.

That means, if you’re charged with federal theft, you’re going to need help. Hiring a lawyer from Zoukis Consulting Group is the best way to ensure you have a dog in the fight. By strategizing your defense, our lawyers can make all the difference in your case.

Schedule an appointment with us today.