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It’s a sad but true fact: Property crimes surge during the holidays. According to information from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), theft crimes like robbery and larceny increase by as much as 20 percent during December. And if you face theft charges this holiday season, the potential consequences are severe.
While “porch pirates” and others accused of holiday-season thefts face the possibility of harsh legal penalties, the Virginia Beach criminal defense attorneys at Pincus Goodman, P.C., believe everyone deserves a capable legal advocate.
Common Types of Holiday Theft Crimes
Virginia Beach holiday theft crimes include:
- Porch Pirates: These individuals sneak onto people’s properties to snatch away packages left by delivery services right from their doorsteps. With the rise in online shopping, especially during the holidays, porch piracy has become a concerning trend in many neighborhoods.
- Shoplifting: The crowded malls and stores during the holiday season often make it easier for thieves to blend in and steal merchandise. From slipping small items into pockets to using sophisticated techniques to remove security tags, shoplifters use the holiday rush to their advantage.
- Burglaries: As families travel to spend the holidays with distant relatives, empty homes become prime targets. Thieves may watch neighborhoods to pinpoint which homes are vacant, then break in to steal electronics, jewelry, and other valuables.
- Car Break-ins: Holiday shoppers often leave purchases in their vehicles, making parked cars outside malls and shops appealing to thieves. They may smash windows or manipulate locks to grab whatever valuables they can find.
- Pickpocketing: Busy streets, packed public transportation, and crowded markets provide ample opportunities for pickpockets. They expertly lift wallets, phones, and other valuables from unsuspecting victims who are often too distracted by holiday cheer to notice.
Five Defense Strategies
Theft charges carry hefty penalties in Virginia, including the possibility of several years in jail and steep fines. If the police arrest you for stealing someone’s packages or other holiday theft crimes, here are some possible defense strategies your attorney could employ:
- Lack of Intent: One of the fundamental elements of theft is the intent to permanently deprive someone of their property. If you can demonstrate that you had no such intention or that your actions were accidental or mistaken, it could serve as a robust defense.
- Mistaken Identity: It’s easy for witnesses or victims to mistakenly identify a suspect, especially in the chaos of the holiday season. With similar clothing, common vehicle models, or other factors leading to confusion, your lawyer could make a case that someone else committed the crime.
- Ownership or Right to Property: If you genuinely believe that the property you’re accused of stealing belongs to you or that you had permission to take it, this can be a valid defense.
- Insufficient Evidence: If the evidence against you is weak, unclear, or solely based on circumstantial factors, your defense team can challenge its credibility and reliability, potentially leading to dropped or reduced charges.
- Entrapment: If someone persuaded or tricked you into committing a theft that you wouldn’t have otherwise committed, your lawyer might claim entrapment. This defense argues that law enforcement or another party lured you into committing the crime, and therefore, you shouldn’t be held fully responsible.
Defending yourself against theft charges requires a keen understanding of Virginia’s legal system and a strategic approach. Don’t try to do it on your own. There’s too much at stake.
If the police arrest you for theft, it’s crucial to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you evaluate these and other potential defense strategies. Call Pincus Goodman, P.C., today at (757) 301-9634 for a consultation, or you can complete our online contact form.