Theft can take many different forms, and it is a broad category of offenses that may involve a wide variety of acts related to the unlawful taking of tangible or intangible property. While many theft offenses such as auto theft or shoplifting will be charged as offenses under state law and the Texas Penal Code, there are a number of theft-related offenses that can result in federal criminal charges. In many cases, federal theft charges can also involve adjacent charges related to conspiracy or fraud. If you are under investigation or facing charges, our Dallas federal criminal defense lawyers can help. In the meantime, the following are five things to know about federal theft crime charges.
1. Many Different Types of Federal Offenses Are Considered Theft Crimes
There are many different types of federal offenses that are not expressly identified as theft crimes but fall under the umbrella of theft offenses. Examples include fencing stolen property (or assisting a person or entity in finding or dealing in stolen property), counterfeiting or forging securities, bank robbery, embezzlement, and extortion.
2. Federal Laws Exist for Various Types of Theft
Federal statutes expressly prohibit various types of theft in a variety of contexts, including but not limited to motor vehicles, airplanes, livestock, major artwork, and medical products.
3. Any Kind of Theft Offense Can Result in Federal Charges When Property is Transported in Interstate Commerce
Although many people associate theft-related offenses like motor vehicle theft will result in charges under state law as opposed to federal law, it is essential to know that the theft of a motor vehicle, even if it is not worth a significant amount of money or does not have substantial monetary value, can result in federal criminal charges if it is transported in interstate commerce. According to 18 U.S.C. §§ 2311-2313, it is unlawful to transport a stolen motor vehicle in interstate commerce, receive or sell a stolen motor vehicle that has been transported in interstate commerce, or otherwise possess a stolen motor vehicle that has been transported in interstate commerce. The law also applies to aircrafts and vessels. A conviction can result in a significant monetary fine and a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
4. Federal Theft Crimes Can Involve the Misuse of Public Funds
When a person has been tasked with safekeeping public funds, any misuse of those public funds can be treated as embezzlement and the person can face charges under 18 U.S.C. § 648. Misuse can involve lending, using, depositing, converting, or exchanging public funds. When a person is accused of this type of theft offense and is convicted, she or he can face a monetary fine that can be “in a sum equal to the amount of money so embezzled,” and a conviction can also result in up to 10 years in prison.
5. Art and Cultural Property Crimes Are Taken More Seriously Than You Might Think
While art theft might not sound especially serious and has been glamorized in cinema, the federal government takes art theft and cultural property crimes extremely seriously. Art and cultural property crimes can be charged under various federal statutes, from theft from the Hobbs Act to laws criminalizing the theft of government property.
Contact a Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you are facing federal theft crime charges, one of our Dallas federal criminal defense attorneys can assist you. Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC for more information.