Ohio property crime laws are designed to punish anyone whose actions violated another person’s property ownership rights or decreased the value of another person’s property. This means that even seemingly minor crimes, such as graffiti, vandalism, and criminal mischief can result in harsh penalties, including fines as well as prison or jail time.
Keep in mind that criminal charges for property offenses don’t have to result in a conviction. The prosecution has to prove that you committed every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt, which is often a burden to do. If any of the elements of the crime is not proven, the charges brought against you can be reduced or even dismissed.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a property offense, you should hire an experienced Toledo property crimes attorney who can defend your rights. There are several types of property crimes, and the laws are often confusing. At Patituce & Associates, we can explain the law to you and promptly develop the best possible defense.
What Is a Property Crime?
Property crime is a form of crime where the perpetrator seeks to obtain an illegal benefit or to damage another person’s property without using force or threat of force. Property crimes are common and they include things like theft, arson, shoplifting, larceny, and vandalism.
Any individual that is convicted of a felony or misdemeanor property offense could potentially face the following penalties.
- A criminal record
- Prison or jail sentences
- Inability to be accepted into certain educational programs
- Ineligibility to apply for certain occupations, jobs, etc.
- Ineligibility to possess or own a firearm, especially if it’s a felony offense
What Are Common Types of Property Crimes?
While home burglary is usually the first thing that comes to mind, property crime cases come in several different sizes, types, and levels of impact. There are many offenses the law categorizes as property crimes, and they should be considered just as serious.
The following are some types of property crimes.
Under Ohio Code Section 2911.12, burglary is defined as breaking or entering into a home or commercial establishment to commit a form of crime like theft. While many homes try to avoid burglaries by locking up and investing a good amount of money in a reliable alarm system, they can still happen to anyone regardless of the neighborhood.
Extortion is a crime that occurs when someone threatens another person to obtain something of value from the victim, usually property, services, or money. The threat could be violence or revealing information that would damage the victim’s personal or business reputation.
The exchange of property or money doesn’t have to occur for this to be considered a crime. In most cases, the threat used will determine the punishment.
Arson is the deliberate destruction of property by fire or explosives. It’s considered a serious offense due to the severe risk it poses to human life and property. The penalties for arson include considerable fines, lengthy jail times, along with harsh consequences that accompany a mark on your criminal record.
This is different from arson in that it applies to property that was set ablaze while being occupied by people, or the resulting fire created a significant risk of harm to other persons other than the initial offender. Note that a conviction for aggravated arson results in severe penalties, including a permanent mark on your criminal background for the rest of your life.
Legally, vandalism is defined as intentionally engaging in behaviors that deface, destroy, or otherwise degrade another person’s property without their permission.
In Ohio, vandalism is a serious criminal offense. What might start as a simple harmless prank or an impulsive dare could result in getting charged with a felony, which could entail extensive prison time and fines.
This is a serious criminal charge in Ohio that encompasses a lot of different offenses. Criminal endangerment or damage is defined as creating a significant risk of physical harm to someone else’s property without their consent where several circumstances are applicable.
Criminal mischief is a broad term that encompasses a wide range of situations that involve property damage. It’s characterized by intentionally causing destruction or damage without the property owner’s permission.
It doesn’t matter whether you were angry, seeking revenge, or just wanted to pull a harmless prank – damaging property belonging to another person is a serious crime that the court won’t treat lightly.
Penalties for Theft Crimes
Theft offenses are usually regarded as crimes of moral turpitude, meaning the conduct is dishonest in nature and it’s a sign of lacking good morals. These crimes could have severe consequences, and can negatively affect educational opportunities, immigration status, and employment prospects.
If you’re convicted of a theft crime in Ohio, you could be faced with additional charges, including fines, jail time, embarrassment, probation, and possible civil penalties. The standard Ohio sentencing guidelines for theft crimes are as follows:
- First-Degree Misdemeanor: This could result in fines not exceeding $1,000 or a jail sentence of up to 180 days.
- Fifth Degree Felony: Penalties for this include imprisonment for 6 to 12 months and fines not exceeding $2,500.
- Fourth Degree Felony: This could lead to 6 to 18 months imprisonment and/or fines of up to $5,000.
- Third-Degree Felony: A conviction could lead to 1 to 5 years imprisonment and fines not exceeding $10,000.
- Second-Degree Felony: This could result in prison sentences of 2 to 8 years and/or fines not more than $15,000.
- First-Degree Felony: Conviction for a first-degree felony could lead to imprisonment for 3 to 10 years and fines not higher than $20,000.
Common Defenses for Property Crimes in Toledo
Keep in mind that being charged with a property crime doesn’t mean you will be convicted. You remain innocent until proven guilty – which are words that mean a lot more than you might realize. For starters, you don’t have to prove your innocence. The prosecution side will have to prove your guilt – they carry the burden of proof.
The burden serves as a basis for the defense strategy for your criminal defense lawyer, along with suppressing the evidence on the prosecution’s side or at least questioning its veracity. Based on the circumstances of your case, your lawyer could raise other defenses as they represent you.
Here are some of the most common defenses in a property crime case.
If you were threatened by anyone or a third party with acts of violence forcing you to commit the offense for which you are charged, it could serve as an effective defense for your case so long as you and your lawyer can prove that a reasonable person would have behaved similarly in the same situation.
Your actions may sometimes fit a property crime, but the reasons you engaged in it might paint a different picture. An emergency might have prompted you to break into someone’s home to prevent them from suffering an injury. In case your circumstances shed light on the offense, your lawyer could raise the justification defense on your behalf.
This is where the alleged offender simply didn’t have the intention of committing the offense due to their intoxicated state and can prove that they mistakenly thought the property belonged to them. As a defense, intoxication is used on the basis that as a result of intoxication, the defendant didn’t understand the nature of their actions or know what they were doing.
Mistake of Fact
For someone to be prosecuted for certain property crimes, they should have reasonably been aware of certain facts. For example, with trespassing, the person should have known they were entering another person’s property without permission.
If the defendant reasonably believed they had permission to enter the property only to find out later the permission had been revoked without their knowledge, this is a mistake of fact.
How Our Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help You
If you are being accused or have been charged with a property crime, the best thing you could do is to talk to a lawyer. At Patituce & Associates, we believe in taking a comprehensive and aggressive approach to your case.
Investigating Your Case
We will first conduct an independent investigation into exactly what went on, and work to collect as much evidence as possible to support your defense.
Your Toledo property crimes attorney will review every piece of evidence, including police reports, lab reports, and investigative notes, along with videos, photos, and audio evidence. This investigation will allow us to pinpoint any weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and to build you the strongest case possible under the limits of the law.
Deciding Whether to Take a Plea Deal
When we have all the facts, we will start discussing your next best steps. We can pursue having your charges dismissed or dropped altogether. If we’re unable to have the case dismissed at this point, there are several options we may consider.
In some cases, the best way of minimizing the potential conviction is negotiating a plea bargain. If there’s overwhelming evidence against you, a favorable plea bargain can reduce the penalties you’re facing.
Representing You at Trial
Our firm has taken over 200 cases to trial, and our team is prepared to fight for you in court. The best strategy for anyone facing a property crime charge is to involve a lawyer in their case as early as possible.
Your Toledo property crimes attorney will be well aware of the right defense approach to use. They will come up with effective strategies and take reasonable precautions to make sure that your case has the best chance of success.
Lawyers also have professional networks with the local courts, prosecutors, and judges. As such, they stand a higher chance of influencing the outcome of the case compared to going at it alone.
Call Our Toledo Property Crimes Attorneys for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one is being accused of a property crime, whether it’s a theft crime, vandalism, or any other property crime in Toledo, Ohio, don’t hesitate to contact us immediately to learn how we can defend you. We will walk you through the best defense strategies you could use to protect your rights and your freedom.
Our team at Patituce & Associates includes three former prosecutors now dedicated to protecting the rights and interests of the accused. Reach out to us at 419-737-4556 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.