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Theft Offenses 

Theft

In Washington, D.C., a theft occurs when an individual wrongfully obtains or uses another person’s property with the intent to (1) deprive the person of a right to the property; or (2) make the property his/her own, or for the use of a third person.

Theft of Services :

If the theft charge is in the form of services, the government must prove the person obtained services which were only offered for compensation, and the person left the place where he or she obtained services knowing that no payment had been made

Penalties for Theft

Theft in the first degree- applies if the property obtained or used is valued at $1,000 or more. Theft in the first degree carries up to ten years incarceration, a $25,000 fine, or both.

Theft in the second degree- applies if the property obtained or used has some value. A person convicted of theft in the second degree faces up to 180 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.

Penalty for Multiple Theft Convictions

A person with 2 or more first or second degree theft convictions faces a mandatory minimum period of 1 year incarceration. The penalty can go up to 10 years in jail, a fine, or both. A person is considered to have at least two theft convictions if the thefts occurred on separate occasions.

Shoplifting

The offense of shoplifting occurs when a person intends to obtain an item offered for sale, or intends to defraud the owner of the value of the item by:

  • Concealing or taking possession of the item;
  • Removing or altering the price tag, serial number, or other identification mark on the item; or
  • Transferring the item from the container in which it is packaged to any other container or sales package.

Shoplifting can still be a crime even if an item is paid for. What is required is the intent to defraud. For instance, if a person is in a shoe store, and he or she takes a pair of $100 shoes and puts them in a box of $50 shoes and then proceeds to pay only $50 for shoes that should cost $100, that individual can be convicted of shoplifting.

Penalty: Any person convicted of shoplifting faces up to 90 days in jail, a $500 fine, or both.

Unauthorized Use of Motor Vehicles

To charge a person with unauthorized use of motor vehicles in Washington, D.C., the government must prove a person took, used, or operated a vehicle, or caused a vehicle to be taken, used, or operated for his or her own benefit without the consent of the owner.

A person can also be convicted of unauthorized use of motor vehicles if he or she rents or leases a vehicle that is required to be returned, but fails to return the vehicle within 18 days of written demand for the return of the vehicle.

Penalty

A person convicted of unauthorized use of motor vehicles faces up to 5 years in jail, a $12,500 fine, or both.
Unauthorized Use of Motor Vehicles and Crimes of Violence: If a person is convicted of unauthorized use of motor vehicles in relation to a crime of violence, that person faces up to 10 years imprisonment, a $25,000 fine, or both. If the crime of violence results in serious bodily injury, there is a mandatory minimum period of 5 years incarceration. Any sentence for a conviction of unauthorized use of motor vehicles in relation to a crime of violence must be served consecutive to (i.e., after) the sentence for the actual crime of violence.

Taking Property Without Right

The offense of taking property without right is self-explanatory. In Washington, D.C., it is a criminal offense to take and carry away someone else’s property without a right to do so.

Penalty: The penalty for taking property without right carries up to 90 days in jail, a $500 fine, or both.

Theft of Utility Service

In Washington, D.C., it is a crime to connect, disconnect, tamper with, or interfere with the operation of an electrical conductor or meter for the purpose of using or wasting electricity or gas, unless the person is authorized to do so.

Penalty: A conviction for theft of utility service is a misdemeanor that carries up to 60 days imprisonment, a $500 fine, or both. For a second or subsequent conviction of theft of utility service, the person faces up to 180 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.

Fraud

Fraud can exist in various forms including credit card fraud, insurance fraud, telephone fraud, etc. The information below contains the provisions outlining the difference between first and second-degree fraud in the District of Columbia.

Fraud in the First Degree

D.C. Code section 22-3221 states that a person commits fraud in the first degree if he or she “engages in a scheme or systematic course of conduct with intent to defraud or to obtain property of another by means of a false or fraudulent pretense, representation, or promise and thereby obtains property of another or causes another to lose property.” This means that if a person engages in an ongoing plan or scheme of lies, deceit, and/or misrepresentation, and that person succeeds in obtaining property that does not belong to him or her, the person can be convicted of fraud in the first degree.

Penalty: Fraud in the first degree at a minimum carries up to 180 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both, if the property obtained or lost has some value. However, if the property obtained or lost is valued at $1,000 or more then the penalty can go up to 10 years imprisonment, a $25,000 fine, or both. As to the fine imposed for the offense, the person can be either be ordered to pay twice the value of the property at issue or the applicable statutory fine for the offense, whichever is greater.

Fraud in the Second Degree

Fraud in the second degree occurs when a person “engages in a scheme or systematic course of conduct with intent to defraud or to obtain property of another by means of a false or fraudulent pretense, representation, or promise.”

The language of fraud in the first degree is identical to that of fraud in the second degree. The only difference is that fraud in the first degree requires the person to succeed in obtaining another person’s property. Fraud in the second degree does not have the requirement of actually succeeding in obtaining the property of another to be convicted.

Penalty: If the property at issue has some value, fraud in the second degree carries up to 180 days imprisonment, a $1,000 fine, or both. If on the other hand, the property is valued at $1,000 or more then the person faces up to 3 years imprisonment, a $12,500 fine, or both. As to the fine imposed for the offense, the person can be either be ordered to pay twice the value of the property at issue or the applicable statutory fine for the offense, whichever is greater.

Identity Theft

In Washington, D.C., the offense of identity theft occurs when a person:

  • Uses the personal identifying information of another individual to fraudulently obtain or attempt to obtain property without that person’s consent;
  • Obtains, creates, or possesses personal identifying information of another individual without consent and with the intent to: (a) fraudulently obtain property, or (b) give, sell, transmit, or transfer the identifying information to a third person for the purpose of fraudulently obtaining property; or
  • Uses personal identifying information of another individual without consent to identify him or herself at the time of arrest, conceal his or her commission of a crime, or avoid detection, apprehension, or prosecution for a crime.

 

Penalties for Identity Theft

Identity Theft in the First Degree: A conviction for identity theft in the first degree carries up to 10 years imprisonment, a $25,000 fine, or both if the property obtained or attempted to be obtained created a financial injury of $1,000 or more. The fine can go up to twice the value of the property obtained, or twice the amount of the financial injury if it is greater than the statutory fine.

Identity Theft in the Second Degree: A conviction for identity theft in the second degree carries up to 180 days imprisonment, a $1,000 fine, or both, if the property obtained, or attempted to be obtained, or the amount of the financial injury, has some value; or if another person is falsely accused of, or arrested for committing a crime for using that person’s identifying information.

Enhanced Penalty for Identity Theft: If the crime of identity theft is committed against an individual who is 65 years of age or older, then the punishment can go up to 1 ½ times the maximum fine permitted, or up to 1 ½ times the maximum incarceration for the offense, or both.

Trafficking in Stolen Property

In the District of Columbia, the term “trafficking” means selling, pledging, transferring, distributing, dispensing, or otherwise disposing of property to another person in exchange for anything of value; or buying, receiving, possessing, or obtaining control of property with the intent to sell, pledge, transfer, distribute, dispense, or otherwise dispose of the property in exchange for anything of value.

The D.C. Code defines trafficking in stolen property as the following: “A person commits the offense of trafficking in stolen property if, on 2 or more separate occasions, that person traffics in stolen property, knowing or having reason to believe that the property has been stolen.” This essentially means that if a person is caught on 2 or more occasions buying or selling stolen items for some type of profit or gain, the person can be convicted of the offense.

Penalty: The penalty for trafficking in stolen property carries up to 10 years imprisonment, a $25,000 fine, or both.

Receiving Stolen Property

According to D.C. Code section 22-3232, a person commits the offense of receiving stolen property if that person buys, receives, possesses, or obtains control of stolen property, knowing or having reason to believe that the property was stolen. It is important to note that the property does not actually have to be stolen for a person to be convicted. All that is required is a belief that the property was stolen to be convicted of this offense.

Penalty: If the property has some value, a receiving stolen property conviction carries up to 180 days incarceration, a $1,000 fine, or both. If however, the value of the property is $1,000 or more, the receiving stolen property conviction carries up to 7 years incarceration, a $25,000 fine, or both.

Forgery

In Washington, D.C., a person can be convicted of forgery if he or she makes, draws, or utters (i.e., authenticates, transmits, presents, or certifies) a forged written document with intent to defraud or injure another individual. A forged document can be anything that is not genuinely what it appears to be. This can include, altered, signed, or endorsed documents, or a document with a false addition, or deletion.

Penalty: A forgery conviction can carry up to 10 years imprisonment, a $25,000 fine, or both, depending on the type of document that was forged.

Contact Us

If you have been charged with a theft offense in Washington, D.C. contact us or call (202) 403-2292 to speak with a qualified lawyer to handle your case.

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