Waxhaw Burglary Attorney
Proven Firm Serves Clients In Union County
Burglary and theft are serious crimes that can result in harsh penalties to dissuade future crimes. The nature of the criminal offense will determine the associated penalties under criminal law. However, these crimes are sometimes unintentional, and the related punishments can be unfair. These penalties can result in a criminal record, which can limit your future opportunities and may not match the severity of the crime. Suppose authorities charge you unfairly with burglary or theft. In that case, you need an experienced Waxhaw criminal defense attorney to ensure the preservation of your legal rights and that you receive a fair trial with appropriate penalties.
At The Law Offices of Huffman & Kendrick, our criminal defense lawyers have years of experience protecting the rights of the accused in Waxhaw, North Carolina. We understand that being charged with a crime can be a frightening experience. Our attorneys in Waxhaw will work diligently to ensure that you know the charges against you and your options for defending yourself. We will also work tirelessly to get the best possible outcome for your case so that you can continue with your life with as little disruption as possible.
Common Crimes That Fall Under Burglary and Theft
The umbrella of burglary and theft covers a multitude of crimes. Some of the most common include:
- Burglary: Burglary is unlawfully entering a home or business intending to commit a crime. The critical element of this crime is the intent. The criminal intent can be anything from theft to assault. If you enter a home or business without the intent to commit a crime, it is considered trespassing instead of burglary. However, if you enter a home or business with the intent to commit a crime and then carry out that crime, you can be charged with burglary.
- Theft: Theft means taking property without the owner’s consent and can classify as anything from shoplifting to embezzlement. The critical element of this crime is the lack of permission from the owner when someone takes the property. If the owner consents to someone taking the property, it is borrowing rather than theft. Taking the property without the owner’s consent can result in a theft charge.
- Robbery: Robbery is the unlawful taking of property from another person by force or threat of force. The primary focus is the actual use or threat of forceful action resulting in property theft. The use of force makes Robbery a more severe crime than theft.
- Shoplifting: Shoplifting is taking property from a store without the intent to pay for it. Shoplifting can be as severe as stealing expensive items from a store or as minor as taking something small without paying for it. People looking to get something for free are often guilty of committing this theft.
- Larceny by Employee: Larceny by an employee is when an employee takes property from an employer without the employer’s consent. The crime can be anything from stealing office supplies to stealing other forms of property that belong to the employer. Employees have insider access to the employer’s property, creating unique opportunities for theft.
- Embezzlement: Embezzlement is the theft of property by someone appointed and entrusted with handling that property. It is a specific type of theft by an employee or business partner responsible for managing someone else’s property. This theft can be anything from stealing money from a cash register to taking property from a company’s inventory.
- Receiving Stolen Property: Knowingly accepting or purchasing a stolen item is considered receiving stolen property. The stolen property can be anything from a piece of jewelry to a car. This type of theft involves multiple parties. The focus is on someone who agrees to receive stolen property, either for money or as a gift.
- Armed Robbery: Armed Robbery is taking property from another person by unlawful force or threat of force while armed with a weapon. The weapon can be anything from a gun to a knife that makes the victim fear for their life. Armed Robbery is a more severe crime than Robbery because it involves a weapon.
What Defenses Are Useful in Burglary and Theft Cases?
There are a variety of good defenses in burglary and theft cases. Some of the most common include:
- Consent: If the property was taken with the owner’s permission, it is not considered theft. Proving the misunderstanding can be difficult, but if there is supporting evidence, it is a valid defense against theft charges.
- This defense often applies in cases where the property is borrowed or taken with the owner’s permission.
- Mistake of Fact: If the person who took the property mistakenly believed they had the owner’s consent, they could use the Mistake of Fact defense. For example, if someone mistook a vehicle that they thought belonged to them because it looked similar to their car, they could use the Mistake of Fact defense. To prove this, the person must show they had a reasonable belief that they were acting within their rights.
- Necessity: If the person who took the property did so out of necessity, they could use this defense. To prove this necessity, the person must show that they took the property to prevent more significant harm or damage from occurring. For example, this defense could apply if someone takes a car to escape a dangerous situation.
- Self-Defense: If a person protecting themselves from harm requires taking someone’s property, self-defense would be the most appropriate strategy in the case. For example, if someone takes a gun away from an attacker, they could claim self-defense. To prove this defense, the person must show that taking the property protected them from imminent harm.
What Are the Penalties for Burglary and Theft?
The penalties for burglary and theft depend on the severity of the crime. Some potential penalties include the following:
- Probation: Probation is a sentence that allows a person to remain out of jail but under the direct supervision of a probation officer. Probation can last for a few months or a few years, depending on the severity of the crime. Many find this option to be more favorable than going to jail. It allows an individual to maintain their freedom. They can continue working and supporting their family while completing their sentence and working with their probation officer to stay out of trouble.
- Jail Time: Jail time is a sentence requiring an individual to go to prison for a determined period. The sentence’s length depends on the crime’s severity and the individual’s criminal history. Jail time is the most extreme outcome, and a judge will reserve this punishment for the most serious theft crimes.
- Fines: Fines are monetary penalties that the court can impose. The fine’s total amount depends on the crime’s severity and the individual’s criminal history. For example, a first-time offender may be fined $500 for a misdemeanor theft charge. In contrast, repeat offenders may be fined $5,000 for the same crime as they pose a greater risk to the community after demonstrating their inability to follow the law.
- Restitution: Restitution is a monetary penalty that requires an individual to pay back the victim for any apparent losses they incurred as a result of the crime. For example, a convicted car thief may receive an order to pay restitution fees to the victim to reimburse the vehicle’s cost.
- Community Service: Community service is a sentence that requires an individual to perform a certain number of hours of work for the community. These services are often an attempt to give back to the community and make up for the harm that the crime caused. Examples include picking up trash, working at a food bank, or volunteering at a local school.
Burglary and theft are serious crimes that can have lasting consequences. However, sometimes people are wrongfully accused or overcharged for these crimes. It is essential to contact an experienced Waxhaw criminal defense lawyer if you receive charges for any of these crimes. Someone who can help you navigate the criminal justice system and lessen the consequences you may face, so they accurately reflect the severity of your actions.
Why Are People Mistakenly Charged With Burglary or Theft?
There are many reasons someone might be charged with burglary or theft mistakenly. Some of the most common causes include:
- Mistaken Identity: Witnesses to a crime often give police a description of the perpetrator. However, these descriptions are often vague and can lead to accusing the wrong person of the crime. In addition, eyewitnesses can be mistaken in their identification of the perpetrator. If the crime occurred at night or in a place with little light, mistaken identity could happen easily.
- False Confessions: Police sometimes use interrogation techniques that can lead to false confessions. For example, when an individual is in interrogation for an extended period without breaks or food, they may be more likely to confess false guilt to a crime to bring an end to the interrogation. Additionally, people with mental disabilities or who may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol may be more likely to confess to a crime they did not commit falsely.
- Lack of Evidence: In some cases, the evidence against an individual is circumstantial, or there is no physical evidence linking the individual to the crime. For example, if the only evidence against an individual is the testimony of a witness, that witness may be mistaken or lying. In addition, there may be reasonable doubt of their guilt if there is no physical evidence linking the individual to the crime.
- Inappropriate Charging: In some cases, the charges brought against individuals are more severe than the actual crime committed. For example, if an individual is charged with burglary when the offense should only be considered trespassing, they may face more severe penalties. A lack of evidence or an overzealous prosecutor may lead to these inappropriate charges.
Tips When Pursuing a Criminal Defense
If you have been charged with either burglary or theft and do not believe you are guilty, there are a few things you can do to help your case:
- Remain Silent: You have the right to remain silent when questioned by the police. You should use this right and not say anything that could incriminate yourself. Even if you are innocent, this is true, as you want to avoid saying something that could later result in a misinterpretation of an admission of guilt.
- Hire an Attorney: You have the right to an attorney. You should hire an experienced Waxhaw criminal defense lawyer who can help you navigate the criminal justice system and protect your rights. Choosing the right attorney is vital in ensuring you are not wrongfully convicted or given a harsher sentence than you deserve.
- Gather Evidence: If you have evidence that proves your innocence, provide it to your attorney immediately. This evidence can help your Waxhaw attorney build a strong defense on your behalf. Your attorney can also help you determine any other pieces of evidence that will help your case. Some examples of solid evidence include an alibi, video footage, or eyewitness testimony.
- Know the Charges Against You: You should know what charges and possible penalties you face. Knowing these critical details will help you understand what you are up against and the severity of the situation. Additionally, this knowledge can help you make informed decisions about your case as you and your Waxhaw attorney work to achieve the best possible outcome.
- Be Prepared for Trial: If your case goes to trial, you should prepare to testify on your behalf. This preparation includes knowing what you should and should not say. It would be best if you also were ready to cross-examine witnesses who may testify against you. Your Waxhaw attorney can help you prepare for trial and guide you on what to expect.
Do I Need a Waxhaw Criminal Defense Attorney?
If you have a charge of burglary or theft in Waxhaw, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as one of your prioritized tasks. The value of an attorney cannot be understated in these types of cases, as your future and freedom are at stake. A Waxhaw criminal lawyer can help you:
- Navigate the Criminal Justice System: The criminal justice system can be confusing and intimidating. This is especially true for the average layperson without experience in the system. While the temptation to save money and bypass an attorney may be strong, this is not wise. The long-term costs of a potential conviction or harsher punishment will likely be much higher than the cost of hiring an attorney.
- Protect Your Rights: You have constitutional rights that the court must uphold throughout the criminal justice process. Unfortunately, police and prosecutors often violate these rights. An experienced attorney will know how to spot these violations and use them to your advantage. Violation of your rights can result in punishments more severe than the crime.
- Build a Strong Defense: Your attorney will investigate the charges against you and work to build a strong defense. This work may include challenging the evidence against you, questioning witnesses, or finding holes in the prosecution’s case.
- Negotiate with the Prosecutor: If the evidence against you is strong, your attorney can negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor. These negotiations can result in a lighter sentence or dismissal of charges. The art of negotiation is something that takes years of experience to master. You are much more likely to get a favorable plea deal with an experienced attorney than you are on your own.
- Represent You in Court: If your case advances to trial, your attorney will be by your side throughout the process. They will handle all aspects of the case, including jury selection, opening and closing arguments, and cross-examination of witnesses. If you are facing serious criminal charges, you need a serious attorney.
What Can I Expect in a Burglary or Theft Courtroom?
If you have been charged with burglary or theft in Waxhaw, you will likely have an arraignment in magistrate court. The arraignment allows the prosecutor to read the charges against you, and you will be allowed an opportunity to enter a plea. If you plead guilty, the case will end there, and you will receive your sentence. If you plead not guilty, the case will go to trial.
The typical process for a trial is as follows:
- Jury Selection: A panel of potential jurors will be selected and questioned by the judge and attorneys. This process aims to find impartial jurors who can reasonably and fairly decide the case.
- Opening Statements: The attorneys will give an opening statement to the jury outlining their respective cases. Opening statements typically include an introduction, a summary of the evidence each side intends to present, and the attorney’s theory of the case.
- Presentation of Evidence: The prosecutor will present their evidence first, followed by the defense. The presentation will include witness testimony, documents, and other types of evidence. All items must be relevant and admissible according to the rules of evidence.
- Closing Arguments: The attorneys will give the jury a final summation of their individual cases. A strong closing argument consists of a clear and concise summary of the evidence that supports the attorney’s statement. The most notable part of the closing argument is the “call to action,” where the attorney asks the jury to find their client guilty or not guilty.
- Jury Deliberation: The jury will retire to a room to deliberate on the evidence presented and reach a verdict. It is at this point that they will decide whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. Deliberations can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours or even days, depending on the case’s complexity or if the jury becomes deadlocked.
- Verdict: The jury will return to the courtroom and announce their decision. If the defendant is found guilty, they will be sentenced later as either a misdemeanor or felony. If you are found not guilty, you will be free to go. If you and your Waxhaw attorney disagree with the verdict, you can appeal the decision and begin to advance your case through the appellate process.
It’s at these stages where having an experienced criminal defense attorney is critical. You need an attorney who knows how to communicate effectively with a jury. An attorney that can connect well with the jury can make all the difference in the outcome of your case.
Questions To Ask a Burglary or Theft Lawyer
When you are meeting with a Waxhaw criminal defense attorney for the first time, it is essential to ask questions to understand their experience better and to learn how they can help you. Here are some questions to ask:
- What is your experience in handling burglary and theft cases?
- Have you dealt with any matters that are like mine?
- What do you think are the strengths of my case?
- What do you think are the weaknesses of my case?
- How do you think the jury will view the evidence in my case?
- What is your trial strategy?
- If we go to trial, who will be handling my case?
- What are the potential outcomes of my case?
- What are the risks of going to trial?
- What is your fee structure?
These are just some questions you should ask when meeting with an attorney. You want to make sure you are entirely comfortable with the attorney and that they have the experience and resources to handle your case effectively.
Contact The Law Offices of Huffman & Kendrick Today
If you or someone you know is dealing with charges of burglary or theft, it is vital to contact an experienced Waxhaw criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At The Law Offices of Huffman & Kendrick, we have successfully represented clients in a variety of burglary and theft cases. We understand the serious nature of these charges, and we will work tirelessly to get you the best possible outcome in your case. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and see how we can help you.