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Theft: Misdemeanor or felony?

When Alaska police charged you with a crime, you undoubtedly wanted to start defending your innocence. While this step can take place in due time, it is important to remember that one of the best ways to defend yourself when facing criminal charges is to present a meaningful defense during your trial.

When it comes to building a meaningful defense, it is vital that you understand the charges that officers have brought against you. If you do not know the exact allegations you face, you may not understand exactly how to defend against them. For instance, if authorities charge you with theft, you need to know whether you face a misdemeanor or felony charge.

Petty theft vs grand theft

The two main types of theft include petty theft and grand theft. In cases of petty theft, the items taken come to a value less than a certain amount specified under state law. In Alaska, you could face a fourth-degree theft charge for an item valued under $50. Because authorities consider this type of theft not as severe as others, petty theft commonly falls into the category of a misdemeanor. Of course, it is still important to address misdemeanor charges seriously.

If you face a grand theft charge, you face a harsher predicament. Grand theft charges typically come about when the amount of stolen items has a higher value than the maximum threshold for petty theft. As a result, you would face a felony charge and could face more severe consequences in the event that a conviction takes place.

The elements of theft

Of course, just because you face charges does not mean that the court will find you guilty. The burden of proof lies with the prosecution, and evidence proving that the elements of the crime existed is necessary. For instance, the prosecution would have to prove that you took someone else's property without permission and that you had the intention of permanently keeping that property from the other person. In most theft cases, intent is on what the case hinges.

Once you better understand the exact charge you face, you may feel more ready to start on your criminal defense presentation. Still, you may worry that you do not have all the information you need to make a meaningful defense. Fortunately, you can enlist the help of a criminal defense attorney to guide you through your case.

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