Cobb County Felony Theft Lawyer
Legally, felony theft in Georgia is taking property valued at more than $1,500. If a defendant allegedly took $2,000 from a safe, the value is objective. Sometimes, value is much more subjective. Usually, an owner decides an item’s value. But the assigned value must be reasonable. The rusty shell of a classic car probably is not worth $2,000, even if the owner claims otherwise. Questioning the value is just one possible defense in these cases. Others are outlined below.
These multiple defenses give an experienced Cobb County felony theft lawyer like Andrew Schwartz multiple options. These options usually result in a plea to a lesser included offense, like misdemeanor theft. Misdemeanors do not have the same collateral consequences as felonies. These collateral consequences include immigration problems and various civil rights restrictions.
In their zeal to arrest defendants, officers often take illegal shortcuts in felony theft cases. These prosecutions also often have witness issues at trial.
Officers often search property, from backpacks to houses, based on little more than an owner’s assertion of theft. Such an assertion, especially if the owner offers no corroborating proof. Such searches are usually unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment. If officers obtained a warrant, that warrant application usually lacks probable cause. Furthermore, the search usually does not fit into a recognized search warrant exception category, such as:
- Consent: Unless the property owner, not the alleged theft victim, voluntarily consents to a search, that search is illegal. As a result, any seized evidence, including the missing property, is inadmissible in court.
- Plain View: Alleged thieves very rarely leave stolen property in plain view. So, this exception does not apply very much in these cases. However, it applies frequently in automobile searches, especially if contraband is in partial plain view, like a pistol’s grip.
- Weapons Pat Down: If officers have reasonable suspicion that a suspect is armed, they may pat the suspect down for weapons. But theft normally is not a violent crime. Officers cannot pat down suspects because they believe they stole something.
Subsequent mistakes often happen as the trial date nears. A Cobb County felony theft lawyer can leverage those mistakes to obtain a successful resolution.
Usually, the defendant doesn’t leave the premises with the stolen item or an insurance company reimburses the owner. Therefore, many owners lose interest in these cases, especially as the weeks and months go by. Owners cannot “drop” charges. Only prosecutors can do that. But prosecutors often aren’t willing to subpoena owners and force them to testify. Instead, they reason that if the owner no longer cares about the case, they should not feel differently.
Since theft is a nonviolent crime, pretrial diversion and deferred disposition are usually available in these cases.
Prosecutors control pretrial diversion programs. Generally, if the defendant stays out of trouble for a few months and completes other program requirements, like writing a sincere apology letter to the owner, prosecutors drop the charges.
The judge controls deferred disposition cases. The defendant pleads guilty, but the judge does not find the defendant guilty. Instead, the judge defers this finding until the completion of probation. If the defendant satisfactorily completed probation, the judge dismisses the case.
These resolutions, which prevent a criminal conviction from staining the defendant’s permanent record, are available in other kinds of cases as well.
Connect With a Thorough Cobb County Lawyer
Criminal cases have procedural and substantive defenses. For a free consultation with an experienced felony theft lawyer in Cobb County, contact Andrew L. Schwartz, P.C. We routinely handle matters in Fulton County and nearby jurisdictions.