People in Washington are probably familiar with certain criminal offenses in a broad sense, but they may not realize that most charges have different degrees of seriousness. Theft is a good example of this. Charges for the criminal offense of theft — which involves the unauthorized taking another person’s property without permission — may be in the first, second or third degree depending on the value of the property involved.

The two main factors in a case involving theft are the type of property and its value. Property that does not have a high market value is generally considered a third degree offense and is classified as a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is a less significant crime, although misdemeanor charges should still be treated as the serious criminal matters that they are.

A first degree theft charge involves property that is worth much more. First degree thefts are felonies, which are serious criminal offenses that can lead to severe consequences both legally and in defendants’ personal lives. An example of this type of charge includes grand theft auto, which most people have probably already heard of. Of course, vehicles usually have high market values.

Whether facing a misdemeanor or felony theft charge, the potential consequences for a criminal conviction in Washington can be severe. Some individuals have to pay steep fines, spend time behind bars or both. Achieving the most favorable outcome possible is important for anyone in this situation. For many, this starts with a thorough review of all charges, typically under the guidance of an experienced attorney.