Nebraska Theft Lawyer
If you or someone you know has been arrested for theft, there are a variety of circumstances and consequences that can happen. A theft can be anywhere form a smaller misdemeanor to a serious felony.
There are distinctions between different types of theft which arise based on the actions taken by the defendant. Additionally, the value of the items stolen will determine the degree of what felony or misdemeanor the defendant is charged with.
It is very possible to get wrongfully accused of theft. Also, committing theft does not necessarily make someone a bad person. These are often crimes that are committed due to poverty circumstances, addiction, or because a young person made an impulsive decision.
Regardless of the circumstances led to the accusations, it is important to understand the details and consequences of the more commonly charged theft crimes.
Types of Theft in Nebraska
There are 12 types of theft offenses in Nebraska that are categorized between statutes 510 and 517 in chapter 28. There are numerous subsections which create different additional offenses within this chapter.
Previously, theft was categorized with different names such as larceny, embezzlement, and so on. However, the legislature revised those concepts under Chapter 28 statute 510. Instead, there are now different definitions of different types of theft, each with their own elements.
An element of a crime is an essential circumstance or piece of evidence that must be met in order for the state to prove it has enough evidence to charge a defendant with a crime.
For example, a less often charged offense under Chapter 28 statute 515.01, theft of telecommunications services, there will be certain elements that must be proven in order for it to be specifically charged under this statute. This applies to all criminal charges. For this particular offense, an individual must knowingly make, possess, tamper with, interfere with, or connect cables in such a way that they are able to obtain telecommunications services.
A crucial component of this crime is that the defendant must knowingly commit it. In a household or apartment complex with multiple people, the state will have to prove that the crime was knowingly committed. This can be a challenge for the state if insufficient evidence was gathered.
The concept of knowingly committing a crime also plays a key role in the other offenses this article will cover.
Theft by Unlawful Taking
This is the statute that generally covers what was previously known as larceny. The first definition of this statute, which covers a broad range of possible theft situations, reads as follows:
(1) A person is guilty of theft if he or she takes, or exercises control over, movable property of another with the intent to deprive him or her thereof. This can be reviewed in Chapter 28 statute 511.
This is a rather straightforward definition that can cover many situations. In this circumstance, the theft of the movable property does not even need to be in the benefit of the person who committed the theft, unlike in section 2 of 511. Section 2 covers “immovable” objects, such as a leased home or commercial property.
This statute also covers theft of rental vehicles by people who violate the rental agreement and fail to return the vehicle within 72 hours of a written demand.
Shoplifting in Nebraska
This is another commonly charged theft in Nebraska. When most people think of shoplifting, their first thought is of someone slipping a product into their purse or their pockets and trying to sneak out the door. However, the shoplifting statute in Nebraska covers a range of different techniques and methods that can be used by a person who is trying to take items from a store for their personal benefit.
The first and main line of the statute reads as follows:
(1) A person commits the crime of theft by shoplifting when he or she, with the intent of appropriating goods or merchandise to his or her own use without paying for the goods or merchandise or to deprive the owner of possession of such goods or merchandise or its retail value, in whole or in part, does any of the following:… This can be reviewed in Chapter 28 statute 511.01.
After section 1, the statute goes on to describe various circumstances and elements in which people can be charged with shoplifting.
Beyond trying to slip something in one’s pocket, they can also be charged with shoplifting if they try to manipulate barcodes to indicate different prices, damaging security countermeasures, and manipulating cash registers to indicate different prices.
Additionally, due to the prolific presence of CCTV and surveillance in the commercial sector, there is a section related to photographic evidence. This includes video footage. In section 2, the statute states that photographic evidence can be used as Prima Facie evidence. Courts and lawyers enjoy using latin and it can be confusing; however, prima facie evidence simply means that it is evidence that can be accepted at face value, unless exculpatory evidence rebuts the photographic evidence.
Exculpatory evidence is evidence that can be used to exonerate or prove a person’s innocence. There are also a number of elements that a prosecutor must meet in order to submit photographic evidence, these are described below section 2.
Theft by Receiving
This is a fairly straightforward statute that can be reviewed in Chapter 28 statute 517. If a person knowingly receives, retains, or disposes of stolen property, they can be charged with theft by receiving. A person can defend themselves against this charge if they can prove that they intended to restore or return the property to its rightful owner, or if they did not know or believe it was stolen in the first place.
This can be a challenging crime for law enforcement and prosecutors to charge. It requires proving intent and that a defendant knew that the item was previously stolen.
Theft by Deception
In order for this crime to be charged, a person must receive goods for their personal benefit after they have used deception to create a false impression. Additionally, if a person withholds information from a victim that would alter their judgment or decision in a transaction, this could fall under theft by deception.
There are additional elements that fall within theft by deception that can be reviewed in Chapter 28 statute 512.
Some of these additional elements or circumstances involve failing to notify a person of previously withheld information, or using a fraudulent credit card, or failing to meet a previously agreed upon obligation.
What are the Penalties for Theft?
The penalties for theft are outlined in one statute under Chapter 28 statute 518.
If theft is committed and the value of the items is over $1,500, the defendant may be charged with a Class IV or IIA felony. In order to be charged with a Class IIA felony, the value of the stolen goods must be in excess of $5,000.
If theft is committed and the value of the items is over $500 but less than $1,500, the defendant may be charged with a Class I misdemeanor. If the value of the stolen goods is less than $500, they may be charged with a Class II misdemeanor.
If the defendant has previous convictions, their current charges may be enhanced to a felony.