Jaclyn M. Nichols Attorney at Law
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No time is a good time to steal decorations

With any holiday, people often put out decorations and ornaments in their yards. At Halloween, it might be spiders and webbing. At Christmas, it's lights and baubles. For St. Patrick's Day, it might be clovers.

One of the risks of putting decorations out is that someone could steal them. Of course, it is not acceptable to steal someone's decorations, but it does happen. For people who catch the person taking the decorations, calling the police may be the first thing they do.

If you're the one caught in their yard, though, what will happen? That depends on various factors, like what it was you were doing. If you were adjusting the lights, trying to return a decoration you located down the street or were approaching to hang a surprise decoration of your own, those could all be good defenses to any charges that are placed against you.

What could happen if you're caught stealing decorations from someone's property?

It depends on how much you're stealing and what exactly happens next, but if you steal a large amount of decorations, you could face serious penalties. Theft penalties tend to be based on the property value of what has been stolen. For instance, if it was $50 worth of property, the likelihood is that you'd face a misdemeanor. For $5,000 worth, a felony is more likely.

Your history also matters. If you've stolen in the past and have convictions, then a new conviction could be more serious than it would be if you'd never been caught before. There could be long-term consequences if you are convicted of multiple crimes of moral turpitude. For example, you may find it much harder to find a job or to maintain employment, since employers want to hire honest, hard-working individuals.

What should you do if you're accused of stealing decorations?

If you are accused of stealing anything, the first step is to stay quiet. You should speak to your attorney before you talk to the police about what happened. You don't want to admit fault, since that could guarantee a conviction. You need to know how what you say could affect you and be able to devise a defense that could help you avoid criminal penalties. The theft of decorations may not seem like a serious issue, but those who are victimized do have the right to pursue their own claims against you and to ask for police involvement.

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