There are certain instances when accusations of stealing, embezzlement, or fraud rise to the level of federal theft charges. In these situations, you will need an experienced California federal theft lawyer to represent you in federal court. Theft is the unlawful taking of another person’s property, whether that is money or some other type of object. Normally, when you are accused of stealing another party’s property, you are charged with a state-level crime. You will face these charges in your local courthouse or the nearby jurisdiction where the alleged crime took place. All-in-all, the crime, and the criminal justice system are relatively local. However, theft is not always pursued as a state-level offense.
At Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer, we are ready to represent you in state or federal court for a wide range of criminal charges. Call (559) 443-7442 today or contact us online to schedule a free, confidential consultation to discuss your case.
California Federal Theft Charges
There are certain factors that can make a theft crime a federal issue instead of a state offense. You can be charged with a federal theft crime if you are accused of unlawfully taking or handling federal funds or property. If you are accused of stealing money or property directly from the U.S. government, one of its many agencies, or even a seemingly distant arm of one of its agencies, you will be charged with a federal crime.
You can be charged with a federal crime if your actions affect interstate commerce. This could happen if you allegedly took property in one state and transported it to another or if you allegedly stole property from a vehicle that was crossing state lines. For example, if you are accused of taking property from a semi-truck or train that was transporting goods from California to Oregon, then you will likely face a federal offense. Also, keep in mind that a theft that occurs over the Internet likely crosses state lines and can be charged with a federal crime.
You can also face federal charges if the alleged crime took place on government property, a Native American reservation, or federal or international waters.
Common Federal Theft Charges in Fresno
You could face many different federal theft charges depending on the accusations against you, including but not limited to:
- Theft of public money, property, or records: Under 18 U.S. Code section 641, anyone who embezzles, steals, knowingly converts, or without authority sells or conveys any record, money, or property of the U.S. or any of its agencies shall be imprisoned and fined. For property with a value of less than $1,000, the offender can be imprisoned for up to one year. For property valued at greater than $1,000, the offender can be sentenced to prison for up to 10 years.
- Misuse of public funds: Under 18 U.S. Code section 648, any officer or person charged with the safekeeping of public money who uses, converts to their own, or deposits this money into a bank is guilty of embezzlement and can be imprisoned for up to one year or up to 10 years based on the value of the money embezzled.
- Failing to deposit money: 18 U.S. Code section 649 states that anyone who is in possession and control of U.S. money and fails to deposit it to the Treasurer when required to do so is guilty of embezzlement.
- Theft of property during interstate commerce: 18 U.S. Code section 659 makes it a crime to steal, embezzle, or try to carry away property from a common carrier or mode of transportation that is part of interstate commerce and that the offender shall be fined and imprisoned for up to three years or up to 10 years depending on the value of the property.
- Theft in maritime or territorial jurisdiction: According to 18 U.S. Code section 661, anyone who steals, takes, or attempts to carry away the personal property of another can be imprisoned and fined. Property valued at more than $1,000 can be punished by up to five years of imprisonment. Theft of property valued at less than $1,000 is punishable by up to one year in prison.
Defending Against Federal Theft Crimes
There are many specific offenses under the umbrella of federal theft crimes. They range from more traditional theft, including taking property or money without permission, to embezzlement, fraud, and identity theft. The best defense to one of these crimes will depend specifically on the actions you are accused of and the wording of the statute. Our experienced Fresno federal criminal defense attorney at Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer is here to review your situation and the evidence against you to build you the strongest defense possible under the law.
Your defense may include the following components, if appropriate:
- There has been a mistake in identity
- You did not have the necessary intent to commit the crime
- The prosecutor does not have evidence to prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt
- Your Constitutional rights were violated during the investigation or during your arrest
Contact Our California Federal Theft Lawyer Today
If you are being charged with a federal crime related to theft, embezzlement, or fraud, you need to get a criminal defense attorney right away. There is no one-size-fits-all defense against federal charges. You need a Fresno criminal defense attorney with years of experience who is ready to dive into your situation and review every detail and piece of evidence. Only through this type of attention can a lawyer discover information that could help you get the charges dropped or reduced, negotiate an advantageous plea deal, or prove your innocence at trial.
To learn more about how the legal team at Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer can help you, contact us at (559) 443-7442 to set up an initial consultation.