What can I do if I am accused of stealing? 48 Answers as of August 24, 2011

I am getting accused of stealing someones check and signing their name and cashing two checks under $200 dollars. My first offense I want to know what happens.

Ask a Local Attorney. 100% Anonymous. Free Answers.

Free Case Evaluation by a Local Lawyer: Click here
Austin Legal Services, PLC
Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
I would recommend retaining a criminal lawyer to help navigate you through the process. If nothing else, it should put your mind at ease. How you proceed will depend on what you wish to do and how strong the case is against you. If you didn't do it or the evidence is weak, you may want to take it to trial. Your lawyer will be able to counsel you if this is a good option or not. If this is your first offense, you may be eligible for a diversion program which consists largely of community service and if you complete it, the charge will stay off of your public record.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 8/24/2011
Law Office of Andrew Subin
Law Office of Andrew Subin | Andrew Subin
If you are innocent, you need to hire a good attorney.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 8/15/2011
Law Office of Sara Sencer McArdle
Law Office of Sara Sencer McArdle | Sara Sencer McArdle
You need to call a lawyer. You can call me for further information.
Answer Applies to: New Jersey
Replied: 8/15/2011
Law Office of Phillip Weiser
Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
You could be charged with theft, forgery, and passing a forged instrument. Forgery and passing are both felony charges, while the theft would be a misdemeanor. You should consult with an attorney.
Answer Applies to: Kansas
Replied: 8/11/2011
Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
You could be charged with different types of theft. You should hire an attorney.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 8/11/2011
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
    Theft by check is serious and you need a lawyer before you speak to anyone at the DA's office or the cops.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    It sounds to me like you may have done it. What ultimately happens depends upon what kind of a criminal history you have. You may be looking at multiple charges. If you actually got money, then you have 2 counts of theft. Base upon the size of the checks (less than $250.00), you would probably be charged with 2 counts of theft in 3rd degree, which is a gross misdemeanor. Each count is punishable by up to one year in jail and a thousand dollar fine. You could also be charged with 2 counts of unlawful issuance a check. These would also be gross misdemeanor offenses. How much jail time ad or how large a fine you have to pay will depend, in large part upon any prior criminal history that you might have. Consult with an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/8/2011
    Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC
    Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC | Lacy Fields
    Because the charge is for stealing the checkbook itself (rather than simply stealing $200), the prosecutor may pursue this as a felony. You could be looking at up to 7 years in prison if they file as a class C Felony. However, if you have no criminal history, you will probably be offered probation.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 8/8/2011
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner | Roianne Houlton Conner
    You need to hire an attorney to help you. You may be entitled to enter a diversion program which would keep this off your record.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/8/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    No one can say with certainty what will happen. I believe that you offense is a misdemeanor. You will have to hire an attorney or have one appointed if you cannot afford one.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/7/2011
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law | Jules Fiani
    Hire a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/6/2011
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    August 5, 2011 Signing someone's name to a check is a forgery charge and is usually a class c felony punishable by imprisonment in a state prison for not less than one year and one day nor more than 10 years, in each case and a fine not to exceed $15,000 in each case.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/6/2011
    Frances R. Johnson
    Frances R. Johnson | Frances R. Johnson
    What you can do is get an attorney who can give you all of your options upon knowing all of the specific facts of your situation, including the facts of the charge, what's going on in your life (work, home, any treatment needs), etc. which can all potentially impact what you can reasonably expect to happen.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    Well, you're in trouble. It's not deep trouble but you are likely looking at two or three felony charges. The first charge would be Forgery. That's a felony when someone completes a check, money order or signs a credit card receipt or otherwise alters a legal instrument with the intent to defraud. The thing about Forgery is it is a crime of dishonesty so if you're convicted, the Forgery conviction can be brought up in court if you testify in court after this case. It is also very hard to find employment with a dishonesty crime on one's record and Forgery is the worst. There are some jobs where you can't even have a felony. The second charge would be theft. For a $200 check, you would only be looking at misdemeanor theft but it is also a crime of dishonesty. Then the other possibility is the felony crime of Identity Theft. Identity theft is where one uses someone else's identity to obtain goods or services in a fraudulent manner. Again Identity Theft is a crime of dishonesty. Under the best of circumstances, with a committed defense lawyer, you may be able to be treated as a First-Time Felony Offender. For that, your sentencing range, assuming on prior record, would be 0-90 days in jail. The court would probably give you a week or so in jail and keep you on probation for 12-24 months with the Department of Corrections. I know this economy is terrible and people have had to resort to unlawful means to feed their kids sometimes. However, as a former drug prosecutor, my experience tells me that most crimes involving Theft, Forgery and Identity Theft are motivated by the desire to feed a drug or alcohol addiction. Consequently, it is my firm belief that anyone engaged in that kind of behavior do themselves three favors. First, no one knows if he or she has a drug or alcohol problem. We humans are fantastic at rationalizing. Only a state-certified chemical dependency counselor is qualified through education and training to make that call. If addiction is holding you back, God help you and get yourself evaluated. If you are poor, check into ADATSA funding for evaluation and treatment. If you have insurance, and treatment is covered, use it. Secondly, an more importantly, commit to treatment no matter what challenges you to quit. Develop the mindset that "this is for me!" No one can make you well but you. Lastly, get involved with AA or NA. Twelve-step programs work better than anything I know. They provide a program or framework of routines you can work to keep yourself clean and sober. I won't B.S. you. Getting clean and sober is hard, hard work but you can stand up tall and do it. Finally, When you take control of your own life by entering treatment or self-help, you are telling the prosecutor and the judge that you are taking these charges seriously and that you are committed to changing your life and being accountable. Judges and prosecutors love to see that because they hear it a lot but people don't often follow through. Be the exception. Follow through.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    What happens?? You probably get charged with a crime, and probably get fired for cause. Youll learn the actual charge[s] filed against you when you appear for arraignment at your first court hearing. The prosecutor can amend at any time he feels he can prove additional or different charges. The charges determine how much time would be imposed if convicted. What can you do? When arrested or charged with any crime, the proper questions are, can any evidence obtained in a test, search or confession be used against you, and can you be convicted, and what can you do? A little free advice: exercise the 5th Amendment right to SHUT UP and do NOT talk to anyone about the case except an attorney. That includes on this or any other web site or public forum. Raise all possible defenses with whatever admissible and credible witnesses, evidence, facts and sympathies are available for legal arguments, for evidence suppression or other motions, or at trial. You can hire an attorney, unless you know how to effectively represent yourself in court against a professional prosecutor intending to convict. The attorney will try to get a dismissal, diversion, reduction, or other decent outcome through plea bargain, or take it to trial if appropriate. If serious about hiring counsel to help in this, and if this is in SoCal courts, feel free to contact me. Ill be happy to help use whatever defenses there may be.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    Some possibilities, acivil compromise between you and the victim of the theft. You could go to jail for upto a year for each check. There are other possible charges depending on how you cashed the check and obtained it.You should talk to an attorney and not the cops if you have not already done so.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    After police investigate, they will send a report to the prosecuting attorney. It is the prosecuting attorney that makes the determination of what, if any, charges are filed. If charges are filed, there will be a warrant issued for your arrest. You would appear before the court for an arraingement and at that time your rights would be explained to you. You may wish to consider consulting with a competent criminal defense attorney at this time. An attorney could further explain your options to you.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Lewis & Dickstein, P.L.L.C.
    Lewis & Dickstein, P.L.L.C. | Loren Dickstein
    The offense your describing is a felony called Uttering and Publishing. The maximum possible prison sentence is 14 years in prison. The good news is that unless someone has an extensive criminal record, jail or prison is rarely given for that offense. Hire an experienced criminal defense attorney right away.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Palumbo and Kosofsky
    Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
    You need to retain defense counsel - we can represent you.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    If convicted of.a felony then 18 months to 3 years.on stare Prison.. if a misdemeanor. Up to one year in county jail.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Bloom Legal, LLC
    Bloom Legal, LLC | Seth J. Bloom
    You should consider hiring a criminal defense attorney in your area to represent you in this matter. In Louisiana, theft under $500 carries the following potential penalties upon conviction: -Jail time of up to 6 months -Fines of up to $1,000 A defense attorney may be able to negotiate with prosecutors to offer a reduced and/or suspended sentence in return for some sort of diversion program of probation. If you are seeking legal representation in this matter in Louisiana, I invite you to contact my firm at the information on this page for a free case evaluation.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Michael Maltby, Attorney at Law
    Michael Maltby, Attorney at Law | Michael Maltby
    When and if you are charged, go to court ask for an attorney or hire an attorney and bring an attorney with you. I would need more facts before I could give you possible outcome scenarios. I will say that you will get credit for this be ing your first offense. At this juncture, don't make any statements to anyone other than an attorney. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    A theft offense can be very serious. While any theft under $500 is a misdemeanor. Such an offense is still punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1000 fine. The collateral consequences of a conviction can also be extremely significant and preclude a person from finding employment where background checks are performed. Often, if you have no prior offenses, a conviction can be avoided with a Stay of Prosecution. A Stay of Prosecution means that the offense is never recorded on your record and stayed for a certain period of time to ensure that you do not have another offense. We can assist you in making sure that your record is not affected.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Donahue, Sowa & Magana Attorneys at Law
    Donahue, Sowa & Magana Attorneys at Law | Glenn M. Sowa
    The possible penalties for this offense vary, depending on what charges are brought against you. You may be charged with misdemeanor theft, which has a possible punishment of up to 364 days in the county jail and a $2500 fine. However, for most first offenders, court supervision is a possible disposition, wherein the case is dismissed after a period of time. The prosecutor may also decide to charge you with forgery, which is a serious felony offense. Forgery can result in incarceration in the penitentiary between 3-7 years and a fine. Once again, most first offenders rarely are sentenced to jail. Probation and restitution are the likely outcome.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    We recommend you retain a criminal attorney before you go to arraignment. No one can predict what a judge will do, but your lawyer can advise you as to all your rights and options. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Watkins Law Office
    Watkins Law Office | Bob Watkins
    That's a pretty wide-open question. It sounds like the next step would be formal arrest and charging. At that point the State will be required to prove that you did in-fact sign another's check and you did so without permission. The signing of another's name could result in a felony forgery charge or the State could proceed with a misdemeanor theft charge. The facts of the case and background of the Defendant often determine that track. If arrested and charged, you would be wise to make no statements and consult a qualified attorney to discuss options.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC | Rankin Johnson IV
    For your first offense, you might get diversion or deferred-adjudication or some other process to avoid a conviction in exchange for treatment or community service. If not, and if you're convicted, the first offense will probably carry probation and maybe a few days in jail.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law | Gregory Casale
    First, assuming that the police have already established probable cause, you will be ardor Ed. This is the formality of being charged. If this is your first offense and you have ties to the community, you will be released on Personal Recognizance (as opposed to being held on bail if you were determined to be a flight risk) and a pretrial conference (PTC) date will be set. I straggly suggest that before your PTC you hire an attorney to represent you. At the PTC your attorney will make requests for discovery and possibly explore terms of a disposition. If a satisfactory disposition is reached, that would be then end of court proceedings. More likely, a further date would be set for Compliance and Election (C&E). By this date, the prosecution must Comply (C) with the request for discovery and you, through your attorney, must Elect (E) whether you will be tried before a jury or before a judge. Next a trial date is set and then the trial is held. That is the formal process. However, 90 - 95% of cases are determined through plea bargaining versus a trial. A plea can be made, either by agreement between the DA and you, through your attorney, or without agreement, at any time along the process. With a plea, you ask the judge for the disposition that you want and the DA asks the judge for the disposition that he or she wants. If you and the DA agree it is far more likey that the judge will adopt the agreed to recommendation. However, the judge can then either agree with your request, agree with the DA's request, or propose a disposition which is neither. In District Court, if the judge does not agree with your proposed disposition you are allowed to withdraw it and go to trial. In Superior Court once the plea is submitted, you are stuck with whatever the judge decides. As you can see, this is not a simple process and there are Rules of Criminal Procedure, which the judge will require are followed, whether you have an attorney or not. The judge will not make accommodations for defendants who attempt to represent themselves. It is not wise to defend yourself in a criminal proceeding, even if you are a lawyer yourself. It is imperative that decisions are made objectively and not based on emotion. There is a saying that a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client. The moral underlying this saying is certainly no less significant for the lay person who represents him or herself. Get a lawyer! It's an important issue and you only have one chance to get it right.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Andrew R. Lynch, P.C.
    Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. | Andrew R. Lynch
    There are to many scenarios to say what will happen. Anything from a dismissal to a felony conviction for identity fraud or a financial fraud and prison time is possible. Even more specifically the facts of your case and the county prosecutor it is assigned to will matter most. If you have no criminal history and the amount is small the probably will not be looking to throw the book at you. I suggest you contact local counsel to help you with your case. Thank you,
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly | Brendan M. Kelly
    When a person gets charged with a crime they have an absolute right to remain silent and you really need to do that! It is important that you remain silent because I have found in my over twenty years of practice that law enforcement tends only to remember the things that help them make the case.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Harden Law Offices
    Harden Law Offices | Leonard D. Harden
    There are many possible outcomes, you could be charged with forgery which is a felony regardless of amount involved. You may be charged with theft where to amount is under 1000 means that it would be a misdemeanor. You should contact a lawyer who can learn the facts of your case and advise you of the best course of action. It is imperative that you not discuss case or facts with anybody.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    Several rules. 1. Do not talk to the police about the matter without an attorney 2. Get an attorney. 3. Do not plead guilty at arraignment. This is even if you are guilty, you lose all your bargaining power.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Michael D. Fluke, P.A.
    Michael D. Fluke, P.A. | Michael D. Fluke
    Theft, Forgery and Uttering a Forged Instrument. The latter two are felonies. With no prior record, you may have diversion programs such as Pretrial Intervention available to you so you can avoid a felony conviction. Florida is a no fault state. I suggest you consult a local Criminal Defense attorney to discuss your case in greater detail and learn all of your rights and options. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Law Offices of Sean Logue
    Law Offices of Sean Logue | Sean Logue
    You may be accused of theft and/or forgery. You should hire an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Eric J Schurman, Attorney at Law
    Eric J Schurman, Attorney at Law | Eric James Schurman
    you could be charged with two felonies. Get an attorney immediately.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    The Law Offices of Gabriel Dorman
    The Law Offices of Gabriel Dorman | Gabriel Dorman
    What happens next is you should immediately contact and hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you and do whatever possible to avoid having a theft related conviction on your record. A theft related conviction will have serious consequences on your future including disqualifying you from future employment opportunities or denial of a professional license. If this is truly your first offense you may have a chance to avoid such a conviction. Whatever is possible for your case will ultimately depend on all of the facts and circumstances involved. That being said, whatever the best result for your case may be, hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney will only serve to maximize your chances of obtaining that result. I hope this answer was helpful. Good luck.'
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Law Office of Kathryn L. Hudson
    Law Office of Kathryn L. Hudson | Kathryn L. Hudson
    To successfully prosecute you they need some evidence other than someone's word. If there is proof and it is your first offense the dollar amount should keep it as a misdemeanor and a lawyer should be able to negotiate probation and a fine.
    Answer Applies to: Arkansas
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    You will likely be prosecuted with a crime of moral turpitude, which will make it nearly impossible for you to obtain any kind of meaningful employment. Contact a lawyer to defend you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation
    Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation | Paul Wallin
    You can be arrested and have to sit in jail until you can post the required bail. You can be facing a jail sentence. You need to immediately contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Expert Bronx Criminal Lawyers
    Expert Bronx Criminal Lawyers | Alexander Sanchez
    These charges are serious. Theft, fraud, and possession of stolen property, to name just a few of the offenses you may be charged with. Speak with your lawyer about possible defenses, and provide him with any information helpful to your case.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    I would need to know a lot more about the circumstances before I could properly advise you. You must retain a good criminal attorney, or have one appointed if you are indigent, and have them advise you as to your options. If you are guilty of one of the related felonies such as forgery, you will likely plead to a misdemeanor and get 3 years probation. You are not facing a jail term on a first offense.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Connell-Savela
    Connell-Savela | Jason Savela
    did you admit it have you told your story to the police is there any way it was not you based on the evidence stealing checks is ID theft F4 and many courts are treating this more seriously these days (f4 is probation eligible, if prison, the presumptive is 2-6 with 3 years parole I would want a misdemeanor offer, not a felony deferred
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    John Segelbaum, P.S.
    John Segelbaum, P.S. | John Segelbaum
    You could be charged with one or more felony crimes. This is a serious matter and you should obtain legal counsel immediately.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
    Accused as in charged with an offense? You need to hire a lawyer if you are charged (and you need to consult with one and possibly hire them if you are not charged but being investigated.) You should not answer any questions from anyone about the allegations. If you are not yet charged, the police will investigate by determining if you had access to the checks, how you would have gotten them, and if you did indeed sign and cash them. They will go to the place where they were cashed to see if i.d. was used and if there are video or photos of the transactions. They will try to talk to you so they can pin you down on a story that can later be used to impeach you if you vary at all. If you are charged, you need to hire a lawyer so you can go to court. It depends on the charge they lodge - it could be theft, fraud, possibly identity theft, etc.If they just used the amounts of the checks (which I'll assign the maximum of $400 because I can't tell from you question if it is two at $200 or total $200) then it would be a misdemeanor. However, there are a number of felony charges that could result and are more likely.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    Get a lawyer and talk to no one else. Especially the police or the victim. Without a record, you should be ok.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Michael R. Nack, Attorney at Law
    Michael R. Nack, Attorney at Law | Michael R. Nack
    You need to hire the best criminal defense attorney you can afford. You do not want to have convictions on your record, much less having to do jail time or pay exorbitant fines. If you do not already have an attorney, I might be able to help you myself.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 8/5/2011
    Law Offices of Elliott Zarabi
    Law Offices of Elliott Zarabi | Elliott Zarabi
    Well you have forgery, maybe burglary, maybe petty theft charges... You must hire an attorney immediately.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/5/2011
Click to View More Answers:
12 3 4 5 6 7 8 Free Legal QuestionsConnect with a local attorney