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Bellevue and Seattle Theft Attorney

Property Crimes

Property crimes in Washington State can have a number of classifications. Charges of theft, shoplifting, burglary, possession of stolen property, motor vehicle theft (auto theft), check fraud, embezzlement, extortion, Identity theft (ID theft), trafficking of stolen property and credit card fraud.

Shoplifting & Theft in the 3rd Degree

A common theft crime, shoplifting is the act of taking merchandise from a store without paying for it. Shoplifting costs businesses billions of dollars every year. As a result, retailers aggressively prosecute shoplifters. Often times, the prosecution and store security guards and LP (loss prevention) officers know each other well and have worked together for years. The prosecution will not attempt to get your side of the story or your version of events. Generally the security guard's story may be the only version of events that the police and prosecutor hear. It is essential to obtain an experienced shoplifting attorney that is interested in your story.

Stores and Retails that we are familiar with:

I regularly represent clients charged with theft at stores such as: Issaquah Cotco, Kirkland Costco, Seattle Costco, Woodinville Costco, Issaquah PCC, Redmond PCC, Bellevue Whole Foods, Bellevue Square (all stores), Bellevue Target, Redmond Target, Bellevue Nordstrom, Macys, Bellevue Squeare Macy's, Bellevue Goodwill, Kirkland Goodwill, Apple Store and Thefts from Employers. 

Employee theft allegations:

I regularly represent people that have been charged with theft from their employer. Many employees find themselves both terminated from their job and at the same times charged with theft from the employer that fired them. This creates a difficult financial situation and a barrier to re-employment. I am familiar with the challenges that this type of a case brings. Prosecutors refer to the defendants in these cases as being in a "position of trust."  Prosecutors often pursue these cases with more vigor that other shoplifting cases because the person alleged to have committed the crime was in a "position of trust" as an employee of the store or retailer.  These cases take an experienced attorney to protect your reputation and employability. 



Theft crimes are classified as felonies when the value of the item exceeds $750, or if there are additional circumstances. Felony theft offenses are very serious matters and can involve heavy fines and prison.

Penalties for a Theft conviction:

3rd Degree Theft/Shoplifting

  • Classified as a Gross Misdemeanor
  • Value of property or merchandise is less than $750
  • Max. jail time is 364 days
  • Max. fine $5000

2nd Degree Theft

  • Classified as a Class C Felony
  • Value of property is $750-$5,000
  • Max jail time is 5 years
  • Maximum fine is $10,000

1st Degree Theft

  • Classified as a Class B Felony
  • Value of property is $5000+
  • Max. jail time is 10 years
  • Maximum fine is $20,000

Auto Theft

Taking a vehicle that belongs to another. There are first and second degree offenses. The penalties you may face for a conviction of auto theft can be very serious. Even if your intention was just a “joy-ride,” and you intended to return the car, it is essential to retain an experienced auto theft attorney.


Burglary is legally defined as the unlawful entering of another person's house or property with the intent to commit a felony therein. Prosecutors are generally not interested in your version of events. There may be a legitimate reason you entered the house or store, including recovering property that was rightfully yours.


Robbery is legally defined as the taking or attempt to take something by force or threat of force. Robbery is different from simple theft because it involves the use of violence and intimidation. Robbery is a particularly serious allegation because of its aspect of violence.

If you are facing charges of a property crime it is essential to retain an experienced Theft attorney. Property crimes have serious consequences, particularly surrounding employment. Today, virtually every employer performs a criminal background check before hiring. Employers are particularly concerned with crimes of theft and shoplifting. A conviction of theft or shoplifting can result in you having tremendous difficulty obtaining employment. If a potential employer discovers a conviction for theft or shoplifting they are unlikely to ask you for your version of events, they will generally move on to the next candidate.

Alternative Sentencing Options:

If you have been charged with shoplifting or theft in the 3rd degree, then you should understand the procedure for a "Compromise of Misdemeanor."

If this is your first criminal offense, there may be alternative programs such as:

  • Pre-trial Diversion
  • Compromise of Misdemeanor
  • Deferred Sentence
  • Stipulated Order of Continuance (SOC)

You should consult with an attorney to see if any of these options may be available to you.

If the accused person is a juvenile, then a community based juvenile diversion program may be an option.  Most of these options are only open to first time offenders and may not be an option if you have a previous conviction for theft or shoplifting.

Often times shoplifting charges are prosecuted in municipal courts and the King County district courts with differing procedures and penalties. An attorney with familiarity with the Seattle and Eastside courts (Bellevue, Kirkland, Issaquah, Redmond) can inform you about the alternative sentencing options in different local courts. These alternative sentencing options may result in you not receiving a conviction on your criminal record.

Employment Consequences

Although a misdemeanor charge may sound relatively harmless, it can have a long-lasting impact on your ability to obtain housing, find employment and attend institutions of higher education.  Property crimes like shoplifting create significant barriers to employment for many people. This is because the official entry on your criminal record will say: "Theft in the 3rd degree." 

Most corporations and even small companies today perform pre-employment background checks and screening. Once a potential employer is notified of a theft conviction, your chances at obtaining that job are slim to none. Additionally, the potential employer is unlikely to advise you of the reason why your application was rejected. A theft conviction can make you virtually unemployable.

Immigration Consequences for Non-US Citizens

If you're not a citizen, you may face deportation or trouble becoming a US Citizen. Theft in the 3rd degree is a crime of "Moral Turpitude" and may result in immigration consequences including automatic deportation or a denial of re-entry to the United States. Agencies like the the Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have tough sanctions for crimes. They often assume that a theft charge is an indication that you may be in the Unites States without employment or means of financial support. My firm is familiar with the issues faced by Non-US Citizens and how to ensure you remain in the United States.

 If you have been charged with a a Theft or Property crime Contact Us for a free case evaluation.


King County: Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Issaquah, Sammamish, Bothell, Duvall, Woodinville, Mercer Island, Newcastle, Kent, Renton, Federal Way, Auburn, SeaTac, Kenmore, Tukwila, and more.
Snohomish County: Everett, Lynnwood, Bothell, Edmonds, Snohomish, Monroe

John T Law
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