In early September, a small, family-owned vineyard in Virginia had two and a half tons of grapes stolen from them overnight. It is believed that the thieves had expert knowledge on how to harvest the product as 3.5 acres of grape vines were harvested, packed up, and stolen between sundown and dawn, a feat that the vineyard owners say was going to take them several days with volunteers to complete. The family-owned vineyard is a small operation and did not produce full-time incomes as all family members also had separate full-time jobs. Several vineyards along the east coast pitched in some of their own grapes to help this small vineyard recover some of its $20,000 worth of losses, but the crop was not insured and the prospects of continuing the vineyard looking grim. Luckily, a vineyard in Washington, which had a boon in grapevine crop this year, donated the entire 2.5 tons to replace what was stolen.
Theft in Washington State
Theft offenses involve the taking of the property of another. There are several different crimes that fall under the purview of theft. In the state of Washington, theft means:
- "To wrongfully obtain or exert unauthorized control over the property or services of another or the value thereof, with intent to deprive him or her of such property or services; or
- By color or aid of deception to obtain control over the property or services of another or the value thereof, with intent to deprive him or her of such property or services; or
- To appropriate lost or misdelivered property or services of another, or the value thereof, with intent to deprive him or her of such property or services."
There are three different levels of theft in Washington: first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree theft.
Theft in the First Degree
If the theft of the vineyard grapes had occurred in Washington, it is possible that the thieves would be charged with theft in the first degree. Theft in the first degree is the worst level or theft in Washington. "A person is guilty of theft in the first degree if he or she commits theft of:
- Property or services which exceed(s) five thousand dollars in value;
- Property of any value taken from the person of another;
- A search and rescue dog while the search and rescue dog is on duty; or
- Commercial metal property, nonferrous metal property, or private metal property and the costs of the damage to the owner's property exceed five thousand dollars in value."
Theft in the first degree is a class B felony in Washington.
An Arrest for Theft: What Now?
Of course, the specific facts of your case will determine the sentence that you may receive with a theft conviction. A charge of theft in the first degree could garner up to 10 years in jail and $20,000 in fines. A theft charge can hurt your livelihood and your reputation. The Law Offices of Steve Karimi are dedicated to protecting your freedom and will take all steps necessary to secure your constitutional rights. Let experienced criminal defense attorney, Steve Karimi, secure your future today.