Theft of government property under 18 U.S. Code §641 is one of the most common federal white-collar crimes. It may not carry the same 20-year maximum penalty as wire fraud and mail fraud, but as felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison, it’s certainly an offense that must be taken seriously. Benjamin Herbst is Maryland federal criminal defense lawyer who specializes in theft of government property and is standing by to offer a free consultation about your case. He is available 7 days a week to discuss what defenses may be available, and the firm offers flexible payment arrangements. Call Benjamin anytime at 410-207-2598.
The elements, or what the government has to prove, in a theft of government property case are fairly straightforward. The government must prove that the defendant embezzled or stole something of value. For felony prosecutions, the government must then prove the value was over $1,000. Finally, the government must prove the defendant knowingly and willfully stole or embezzled the thing of value. Any person who knowingly, and without authorization, deprives the government of money or property faces prosecution. This includes government employees or contractors that come to possess government money or property lawfully, but then exceed that authorization. Intent to replace the property or money is never a defense on its own, though it may tend to refute the government’s claim that the theft was knowing and willful.
The value of the money or property stolen is without a doubt the most important factor in a federal theft case. The base offense level for this crime is 6, which means that all first-time offenders would be eligible for a probation sentence with no jail time. The caveat however is that the points start to tack on as the amount of the theft climbs higher. Any theft with a value of more than $6,500 adds two more points, but a person without priors could still end up with a guideline range that starts with probation. When the value hits $15k the guidelines start to call for incarceration, and once it hits $40k the range jumps to 10-16 months. After $40k points tack on again at $95k, $150k, $250k, $550k, $1.5 million, $3.5 million, $9.5 million, $25 million, $65 million, $150 million, $250 million, and finally $550 million, which adds 30 points and leaves a first-time offender with over 15 years at the bottom of the guidelines. In situations where the value is well over $1 million, the defendant would likely be facing additional charges, and the maximum penalty would be much higher than 10 years.
The federal sentencing guidelines are much different than the guidelines in the state courts of Maryland and Florida, and it is impossible to evaluate your theft or fraud charges without fully understanding the points and levels that factor into a potential sentence. These cases can be far more complex than state cases, and require experienced and dedicated representation. If you or a loved one is facing federal theft or fraud charges do not wait until the last minute to contact a lawyer. Getting a head start on your defense can be a key to preparing a formidable defense or to negotiating with the government for a favorable outcome. Benjamin Herbst is an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer who specializes in theft of government property and various types of fraud charges. He has successfully represented over 1,000 clients and has numerous jury trial acquittals. Benjamin has appeared as a legal analyst on national television, and has been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post and other widely circulated media outlets. Benjamin is available 7 days a week to offer a free consultation about your case, and is willing to travel to meet in a convenient location. He provides his cell phone number to all clients, and prides himself on always being accessible. Going through a federal criminal prosecution can be extremely stressful, which is why Benjamin believes that constant communication with legal counsel is so important. Call Benjamin today at 410-207-2598 or in Florida at 954-543-0305.