Reasons Why You Need an Attorney for Petty Larceny
Petty theft gives many defendants a false impression of what lies ahead. Whether you were caught stealing or you are being accused of theft, do not let the word “petty” discount the seriousness of the charges you are about to face.
Furthermore, never assume that you do not need an attorney. Even if you are facing a first-time petty larceny offense, the consequences are more severe than you might imagine.
Petty Theft in Albuquerque Is Nothing Small
In New Mexico, larceny is a term used to define multiple theft charges. You can be arrested and charged with larceny if you steal something of value belonging to another person – private or commercial.
You could steal services, tangible or intangible items, and still face a larceny charge. Furthermore, you could be charged with larceny for receiving stolen property, using someone’s identity, falsely obtaining services, or using fraudulent acts to keep a product or service.
Petty Larceny Is a Misdemeanor Petty Theft Charge
New Mexico uses classifications for their theft charges. If you are charged with petty larceny (also known as a misdemeanor petty theft charge), you have stolen something that is valued at $250 or less. While it is a misdemeanor, you do have criminal penalties if convicted.
Reasons Why You Need to Hire an Attorney for Your Petty Theft or Larceny Charge
Petty does not mean minor. Also, being charged with a misdemeanor is still severe. Many defendants will discount the severity of a misdemeanor only to find out later how that misdemeanor affects them. Therefore, if you think you can skip hiring an attorney and negotiate or represent yourself, here are some reasons you should reconsider:
Petty Theft Includes Jail Time
A petty theft conviction, even for a first-time offender, can include up to six months of jail time. While you might not receive the full six-month period as a first-time offender, you can expect some incarceration.
You May Have Probation and Contingencies
Even if you serve one month or no time in jail, the judge may issue probation. Probation is not freedom. You still have contingencies placed by the courts, and sometimes these are constrictive on your lifestyle. You may be disallowed to visit specific areas of the city, see certain people, or even engage in specific activities. You will also need to report to a probation officer. Failing to follow even a minor contingency could result in you going to jail.
A Conviction Includes Fines and Potential Restitution
There is a financial impact of a conviction. While you might assume that you save money by not hiring an attorney, a conviction (if a plea deal) could result in a fine. The courts require that you pay up to $500 in fines for your larceny conviction.
Furthermore, the judge may require restitution. Restitution is on top of the court fine paid as part of your punishment and could end up costing the value of the item stolen or more – depending on the circumstances.
Criminal Proceedings Are Complicated
A criminal case can be confusing, and you have numerous hurdles to get through – opening the door to many pitfalls. You may have to deal with motions, hearings, court orders, pleas, and possibly a jury or judge trial.
To go through this process, you need a professional. An attorney understands how complicated the process is; they go through it every day. They are well-versed in the law, know how to represent you, and they can help achieve the best outcome.
Even if you want to plead guilty, an attorney will negotiate on your behalf for a favorable bargain so that you do not face the maximum.
Consider the Indirect Penalties
There are indirect penalties associated with a guilty conviction, too. The biggest is that you will have a criminal record. Even a plea is entered into a criminal database, and that becomes a matter of public record. Anyone doing a background check – employers, residences, and so forth – will see that you have a criminal conviction. This can impact employment opportunities, education, student loans, immigration, and even your ability to join the military.
Costs outside of the Courtroom
You must also consider the costs that you could incur if you are found guilty of petty theft. Not only do you have court fines and potential restitution, but you may be required to go through rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is paid out of your pocket – not the state. Furthermore, you will miss hours at work during your jail sentence (and possibly lose your job).
An Attorney Is Not as Expensive as You Think
The reason most defendants do not hire an attorney is the cost. But rarely do they consult with an attorney to find out how much it would, indeed, cost them. Defending a misdemeanor for an attorney is relatively quick because they know the system and know how to reduce the cost of the case. You may be surprised at how affordable an attorney is, especially when you consider how much they save you long-term.
Consultations Are Risk-Free
Most attorneys will meet with you and give you a free evaluation. That means there is no risk to sit down and talk with an attorney to explore your options. Meeting with an attorney also helps you understand your rights and potential outcomes of your case. Furthermore, it helps you see just how much it would cost and what it might save you in the future.
Meet with a Criminal Defense Attorney Today
After an arrest for a misdemeanor, do not ignore the fact that you need an attorney. Instead, contact the team at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices. We are here to help you in your case, and we ensure that our clients get the best possible outcome.
Schedule a free case evaluation by calling our offices at 505-200-2982 or request more information online.