In Washington State a misdemeanor Theft of rental, leased, lease-purchased, or loaned property offense can have a maximum sentence of 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor you could be facing jail time and trouble securing employment in the future.
Often times Theft of rental, leased, lease-purchased, or loaned property charges are prosecuted in city courts with differing procedures and penalties. In some situations you may have been late on your bill to Rent-A-Center or another rental company. Although a misdemeanor charge may sounds relatively harmless, it can have a long-lasting impact on your ability to obtain housing, find employment and attend institutions of higher education. Additionally, property crimes like shoplifting create significant barriers to employment for many people.
For many people charged with Theft of rental, leased, lease-purchased, or loaned property this is the first time they have been on the wrong side of the law. Additionally, many are juveniles and have a bright future ahead of them.
Below I have listed the Washington State Law for Theft of rental, leased, lease-purchased, or loaned property:
(1) A person who, with "intent to deprive" the owner, wrongfully obtains, or exerts unauthorized control over.... is guilty of theft of rental, leased, lease-purchased, or loaned property.
Understanding the Law
The key term in the law is "intent to deprive." There are two main ways to prove that the defendant may have an "intent to deprive" the true owner of the property.
1. The defendant failed to return the property and failed to make arrangements to return the property within 72 hours after receipt of proper notice to return the property
2. The defendant used a "fake ID" to rent the property.
The law of "theft of rental property" is a very fact dependent law. This means that the facts in your case may or may not be favorable and lead to a dismissal of the case or for a jury to find that the facts do not support a theft conviction. If you simply did not pay your bills on time then you should not agree to plead guilty to a theft charge.