Unfortunately, you may have been caught stealing, shoplifting, or committing fraud or forgery; you may have written a bad check, thinking you had enough money in your account; or you may have simply been wrongly accused of any of these actions. If you have been accused of a theft or fraud crime in Arkansas, the smartest decision you can make is to contact our Fayetteville theft lawyers at The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas LLP.
Hiring an attorney is helpful in several ways. Our Fayetteville criminal defense lawyers are well-versed in Arkansas criminal law, and we can explain the law regarding your specific theft or fraud charges. We will talk with you about the potential consequences of a theft conviction, including incarceration, fines, community service, probation, restitution, and loss of or ineligibility for professional licenses. We will make sure you are completely aware of your rights and options. Most importantly, our attorneys will mount a vigorous defense against the charges and pursue the best possible outcome in your case.
Arkansas Theft & Fraud Crimes
Arkansas’ theft and fraud offenses are found in Chapters 36 and 37 of the Penal Code, Title 5. These statutes include many theft- and fraud-related crimes, which you could be charged with. Some are misdemeanor offenses while others are felonies. Whatever the specific crime or the level of the charge, you need to take it seriously and call our Fayetteville theft lawyers for help. The processes and procedures regarding theft and fraud crimes can be confusing, and our former Benton, Washington, and Sebastian County prosecuting attorneys know how to navigate this system for you.
Common theft and fraud charges include:
Theft of Property (AR Code §5-36-103): Facing a theft of property charge means the prosecutor believes they can prove you knowingly took or exercised unauthorized control over another person’s property with the intention of depriving the true owner of that property. This statute also prohibits theft by deception or threat. You can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor or Class D, C, or B felony depending on the type and value of the property.
Theft of Services (AR Code §5-36-104): You may face a theft of services charge if, with the intent to defraud another person or business, you obtain services you know are available for compensation by the use of threats, deception, or other methods to avoid payment. If you receive services and then when it is time to pay, you leave or run away without paying, it is presumed that you intended to avoid paying. This crime may be charged as a Class A misdemeanor or Class D, C, or B felony depending on the type and value of the services.
Shoplifting (AR Code §5-36-116): In Arkansas, you can be charged with theft of property if you shoplift, which includes hiding unpurchased personal property from a store or business on your person with the intent to not pay and to deprive the owner of their property. If you are facing a shoplifting charge, call our Fayetteville theft lawyers right away.
Theft of Public Benefits (AR Code §5-36-202): You can be charged with welfare fraud if you illegally obtain any public benefits through a misrepresentation, the failure to disclose important information, a false statement, or impersonating someone else. The level of the charge depends on the value of the public benefit you received. You may face a Class A misdemeanor or Class C or B felony. Or, if you are accused of defrauding a welfare program, you could be charged with Medicaid Fraud under §5-55-103 or Illegal Use or Possession of WIC Vouchers under §5-55-202.
Forgery (AR Code §5-37-201): You may be defending yourself against a forgery charge if a prosecutor believes you, with the intent to defraud, complete, alter, or counterfeit a written instrument that claims to be or represent the act of another person who did not consent to the conduct or a fake identity. You may be charged with forgery in the first degree, which is a Class B felony, or you may face forgery in the second degree, which is a Class C felony.
Credit and Debit Card Fraud (AR Code §5-37-207): If you knowingly use a debit or credit card that you know is stolen, has been revoked or cancelled, is forged, or is the card of a person who did not give you permission to use it, then you can be charged with credit and debit card fraud. Depending on the value of the property or services you obtained, you could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor or a Class D, C, or B felony, like a theft of property or services offense.
Insurance Fraud (AR Code §5-37-217): You can be charged with health care fraud if you, with the purpose of defrauding a public or private health care plan, you provide false material information on your application or a claim for payment or reimbursement. The charge you face depends on the value of the health care coverage you unlawfully obtained. You may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor or a Class C, B, or A felony.
Financial or Non-Financial Identity Fraud (AR Code §5-37-227): If you are accused of committing financial or loan fraud against a mortgage company, bank, loan provider, or other financial institution, you can be charged with theft or a fraud offense under Arkansas or federal law. If you are accused of any type of fraud, call The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas LLP as soon as possible.
Arkansas Hot Check Law (AR Code §5-37-302): You can be charged with passing bad checks if you intentionally write and deliver a check when you know the account has insufficient funds or that the bank will deny the payment. However, you may not be charged right away. Bad checks are often unintentional. You will be given a certain amount of time to pay the check. If you fail to do so, a warrant will be issued for your arrest. Depending on the amount of the check, or whether you have passed bad checks before, you may face an unclassified misdemeanor or a Class D, C, or B felony. If you are facing charges for accidentally writing a bad check, call our Fayetteville fraud attorneys as soon as you can.
Tax Fraud (AR Code §26-18-201 & 202): If you intentionally try to evade paying your state taxes, you can be charged with a Class C felony. If you willfully refuse to file a tax return or to pay your tax liability calculated upon filing your return, then you may face a Class D felony. Also, if you do not file a federal tax return, submit incorrect information, and refuse to pay your federal tax bill, you can be charged with federal tax fraud crimes, which can be harshly punished.
Potential Consequences of a Theft or Fraud Conviction
If you are convicted of a theft or fraud crime under Arkansas law, you may be sentenced to several penalties, including incarceration, probation, fines, and restitution to the victim. The amount of a fine and the term of imprisonment are dictated by the level of the offense:
- Class A Felony is punishable by between 6 and 30 years in prison and fines up to $15,000.
- Class B Felony is punishable by between 5 and 20 years in prison and fines up to $15,000.
- Class C Felony is punishable by between 3 and 10 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
- Class D Felony is punishable by up to 6 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
- Unclassified Felony is punishable in accordance with the statute defining the felony offense.
- Class A Misdemeanor is punishable by up to 1 year of incarceration and fines up to $2,500.
- Class B Misdemeanor is punishable by up to 90 days of incarceration and fines up to $1,000.
- Class C Misdemeanor is punishable by up to 30 days of incarceration and fines up to $500
- Unclassified Misdemeanor is punishable in accordance with the statute defining that specific offense.
Call Our Fayetteville Theft Lawyers Today
If you are accused of any type of theft or fraud crime, from tax fraud to shoplifting, do not hesitate to call us at The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas LLP. We are here to thoroughly review the case against you and determine the strongest defense. We may argue that there has been a mistake of identity, you lacked intent to defraud, or there is insufficient evidence to prove you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.