A conviction involving incarceration on a theft-related offense may depend on the amount of property Montana officials claim a defendant took. If this is a first-time charge for allegedly taking property worth less than $100, you may ask the court for a deferred sentence, as noted on the MT.gov website.
A judge must approve of a deferred sentence and may agree when an offense’s penalty does not exceed one year of incarceration. In some cases, a judge’s favorable decision may include conditions that defendants must follow such as probation. Violating the judge’s orders or conditions may result in revoking the sentence and spending time in jail.
Avoiding a theft conviction may require a strong defense
When seeking to convict on theft charges, prosecutors must prove to the court that a defendant knowingly deprived an owner of property. The court may, for example, need to see evidence that you took control over someone else’s belongings with the purpose of keeping them for yourself.
Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute notes that charges may not lead to a conviction if prosecutors cannot prove specific intent. If, for example, you did not take property with the intention of keeping it, you may avoid a conviction through a defense that shows you made a mistake.
Countering allegations of theft through fraud could require backup documentation
Under Montana’s theft code 45-6-301, using deception to take control of property or services may lead to theft charges. Making false statements to receive valuable services, for example, may result in a felony charge.
Providing the court with accurate or truthful records could reflect your state of mind at the time of the alleged misrepresentation. Your defense may show that you had no intent to deceive someone for your gain.