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By: Law Offices of Mace J. Yampolsky

What You Need To Know About Theft Charges and Defenses in Las Vegas, Nevada

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If I’m Charged With Theft In Las Vegas, What Should I Do?

First, knowing your charges will determine how you should proceed. In Nevada, according to the state’s legislature laws under Chapter NRS 205.220, “Grand Larceny” is the intentional act of stealing someone else’s property that’s worth $1,200 or more. Stealing anything is defined as taking property that belongs to another entity or person without their permission.

For example, businesses in Nevada lose millions of dollars in revenue due to the common crime of shoplifting. Nevada businesses invest in technology and surveillance and are always on high alert for shoplifting on their premises.

Depending on precisely what you steal, the penalties you face for shoplifting can result in a misdemeanor or a felony charge, which can be very severe.


  • If the items you stole are valued at less than $1,200, you could face a misdemeanor offense.
  • If the value is over $1,200, you will most likely be charged with a felony.

So, if you’ve been arrested or accused of shoplifting, you must do the following to protect your rights and freedom:

  • Remain silent – When you’re accused of a crime, it may incite anger in anyone, and the concurrent fear could make you say things that could be used against you later. Be polite but remain silent and provide the minimum of information.
  • Remember, you can be charged even if you took nothing – Nevada is harsh on theft, and often you can be charged without taking anything. Some examples of how this could occur are;
    • Changing prices.
    • Distracting a store manager for someone else.
    • Or acting as a lookout.
  • Understand the “shopkeepers’ privilege” under Nevada law – Even if you are suspected of shoplifting, store personnel have the right to detain you until police arrive. You must note, however, that they must;
    • Have probable cause to believe you have shoplifted.
    • They may only use reasonable force to detain you.

Mistakes happen, and you may wish to pay for the item and apologize; however, many times, that’s not enough.

  • Get professional legal counsel immediately – Shoplifting, and all theft charges in Nevada, have severe consequences. Your Local, experienced criminal defense lawyer’s advice, guidance, and knowledge can be invaluable and help you enormously at this critical time.

What Is the Difference Between Petty Theft & Grand Larceny in Nevada?

First, depending on where you are in Nevada, if the value of the property you took is under $650-$1200, you may face a petty larceny charge, commonly a misdemeanor. Suppose the property’s value exceeds the minimum amount. In that case, you’ll face a grand larceny charge, which is almost always a felony offense and carries much harsher fines, penalties, and even jail time.

So, commonly, the only difference between petty and grand theft is the dollar value of the stolen property involved. That said, each type of theft differs in its severity and the circumstances surrounding the theft. Even if you’re charged with petty theft, how you committed the crime, who you stole from (aka the elderly), and other extenuating circumstances may add to your charges and the penalties you face,

Nothing is ever simple under Las Vegas law, and state prosecutors usually will attempt to impose harsh and sometimes life-changing penalties and jail time on convicted offenders.

Therefore, obtaining a complete case evaluation from a qualified, professional, experienced, and aggressive Las Vegas criminal defense law team is mandatory as soon as you are charged.

Your lawyer knows that Las Vegas (and Nevada) prosecutors have discretion in reducing the charges against you or your penalties under certain conditions. The sooner your experienced Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer begins to mount your defense, the better they can “get ahead” of the prosecution. They could get your charges mitigated downward, negotiate a plea deal, or even dismiss your case.

What Are Some Examples of Penalties I Could Face For Theft in Las Vegas?

Of course, numerous types of theft crimes can occur in Las Vegas and throughout the country.

Most states, including Nevada, do base the charges and subsequent penalties on the dollar amount of the stolen merchandise, but also many other factors, such as how the crime was committed (and if violence, etc., was involved), the intent of the crime, if you have a history of theft and much more.

In many petty larceny cases, you could face restitution, including jail time of up to six months and a possible $1,000 fine.

Grand theft may also include restitution, but it always will get you a lengthier prison sentence, possibly 1-5 years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines. In many cases, however, there are valid defenses that your lawyer can raise, such as you lacked the requisite intent to steal the item or simply forgot to pay and walked out of the store.

In other theft cases, you may have already owned the property, such as when the store owner or victim simply made a false allegation or mistook you for someone else.

There are other forms of theft crimes also, such as burglary. Burglary may be charged if you enter a residence, building, airplane, etc., intending to commit theft, assault, or any other felony, thereby obtaining money under false pretenses.

Also, it is vital to note that you don’t have to steal anything to be charged with burglary. These penalties are even harsher and could include a prison sentence of 1-10 years and up to a $10,000 fine.

So, as usual, no theft charge is as simple as it may seem, but most all carry “teeth” that can get you years of jail time, so help, advice, and an immediate, professional criminal defense is mandatory.

How Can My Lawyer Defend Me Against Theft Charges in Las Vegas?

Of course, depending on the specifics of your case, there are myriad defenses that a qualified, experienced, and aggressive criminal defense law team can mount.

However, some of the more common defense strategies in theft cases include:

  • You already owned the item and, therefore, could not steal it.
  • You had no intent to steal the item. For example, you absent-mindedly walked out of the store or off the premises, not knowing you still possessed it or forgot to pay.
  • You were searched unlawfully by the police, and any evidence they found from the unlawful search must be disregarded and more.

Two things you must note: a qualified criminal defense lawyer can mount myriad defenses, and all commonly are based on the specifics and details of your crime. One common resolution is for the Defendant to attend petty larceny school and then the case will be dismissed upon completion.

Also, most theft charges in Las Vegas are treated harshly by the court, and the sooner you obtain professional, aggressive, and winning representation, the better.

I’ve Been Charged With Theft in Las Vegas; How Should I Proceed?

First, time is not on your side, and if you’re charged with theft in Las Vegas, getting an immediate case evaluation from a local, winning, and long-standing criminal defense lawyer is invaluable to your rights and freedom.

The criminal defense law firm of Law Offices of Mace J. Yampolsky has sought justice for Las Vegas clients for over forty years. They know how to obtain positive results and will fight tirelessly and aggressively for your rights and freedom. Call them today at (702) 385-9777, and obtain the professional, empathetic, and winning legal help you must have.