Being accused of a crime in Providence is a big deal. Indeed, criminal charges can damage your reputation, even if you aren’t convicted. And if you are convicted of the crime, you may be facing jail time, large fees, and a mark on your permanent criminal record that limits your professional activities moving forward. Which is why if you are facing charges for theft in Rhode Island, you need a skilled Providence, RI theft crimes attorney on your side. At the Law Office of Jay Bianco, our theft crimes attorney can provide you with the counsel and guidance you need as you defend yourself against charges. Protect your rights and your future – call our law firm today.
Defining Theft in Rhode Island
Per Rhode Island criminal code, theft--which is called larceny under the statute–is defined as stealing any “money, goods, or chattels, or any note of the general treasurer of this state for the payment of money, any bank bill….” etc. – the list continues to include numerous other forms of property that, if taken, may constitute theft.
In addition to larceny, other theft crimes in the state include:
- Receiving stolen goods. Even if a person does not actual steal goods, a person who shall “fraudulently receive” any stolen money or goods may be found guilty of larceny.
- Embezzlement and fraudulent conversion. Another type of crime that falls under the same chapter of the criminal code as does larceny is that of embezzlement and fraudulent conversion. Embezzlement occurs when a person to whom any money is entrusted for a specific purpose takes, embezzles, or fraudulently converts the money for their own use and their own purpose.
- Obtaining property by false pretenses or personation. Finally, obtaining property by false pretenses or personation is illegal in the state, and occurs when a person obtains goods, wares, or other property, with the intent to cheat or defraud, from another by false representation or personation of another person.
The penalties for theft (larceny) depend on the value of property stolen, received, or embezzled. To be sure, per Title 11 – Criminal Offenses, Section 11-41-5, the penalties for larceny are as follows:
- Property valued between $1,500-$5,000: imprisonment of up to three years, a fine of up to $1,500, or both.
- Property valued between $5,000-$10,000: imprisonment for up to six years, a fine of up to $3,000, or both.
- Property valued in excess of $10,000, or if the property is a firearm: imprisonment of up to 10 years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
Note that a person who is found guilty of embezzlement shall be deemed guilty of larceny and will be subject to a fine of up to $50,000 or three times the value of the property embezzled, whichever is greater, or subject to an imprisonment period of up to 20 years, or both. The only exception to this is in the event that the property embezzled is valued at less than $100, in which case the penalty will be a fine of up to $1,000, an incarceration period of up to one year, or both.
Another crime found under the same chapter of code cited above is that of attempted larceny. If larceny is attempted but not committed, the same punishment that would be applicable had the larceny attempt been successful will be assessed.
Note that in addition to a period of incarceration, a large fine, or both, being convicted of a criminal charge can have major consequences professionally and socially, too.
Defenses to Larceny Charges in Rhode Island
If you have been charged with larceny in Rhode Island, it is strongly recommended that you retain the counsel of an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. A criminal defense lawyer can assist you in many ways, including, importantly, helping you to understand the viable defense options that apply in your case.
Note that any defense to larceny that is appropriate for you will vary on a case-by-case basis. That being said, potential defenses to larceny include:
- Lack of intent. You may be able to prove that you had no intent to deprive the rightful owner of their property – i.e. you were merely using or borrowing the property.
- Right to property. Another defense to theft is offering evidence that the property in question was rightfully yours, or that you believed the property in question to be rightfully yours.
- Permission to use property. If you had the property owner’s permission to use or to take the property, then the charge of theft is not applicable.
- Return of property. If you took the property without the owner’s consent but returned the property afterwards, even if you initially took the property with the intent to deprive the property owner of it, this may help sway the court in your favor, resulting in lesser charges or less harsh sentencing.
In addition to the above, you may also have a strong defense if you can prove that evidence against you was illegally obtained. For example, if the property was obtained via illegal search and seizure, then this evidence cannot be submitted against you in court. Our lawyer will aggressively investigate your case and review the prosecution’s evidence against you to determine whether or not any violation of your constitutional rights has occurred. If so, our team will file motions to ensure that evidence illegally collected against you is suppressed and that your rights are protected.
Call Our Providence, RI Theft Defense Lawyer Today
If you are facing theft charges in Rhode Island, our Providence criminal defense lawyer at the Law Office of Jay Bianco can help. To schedule your free consultation, please call our law firm directly today or send us a confidential message online telling us more about the charges you’re facing and requesting an appointment.