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Theft charges could result in 5 years for Lansing teenager

Theft charges are typically ranked according to the worth of the property that is allegedly stolen. For example, shoplifting $40 worth of cigarettes would typically be charged as a lesser crime compared to shoplifting $400 worth of jewelry. The circumstances also make a difference. Breaking and entering to steal something would be charged as a more serious crime than stealing something laying in a front yard.

Recently a 19-year-old from Lansing was charged with stealing from at least one unoccupied car. Larceny from a vehicle is a crime that carries up to five years in prison if convicted. The 19-year-old has other charges pending in addition to stealing from a vehicle.

The police began their investigation after residents complained of auto break-ins on Briarfield Drive in Lansing. The police arrived on the scene and noted that the 19-year-old was walking in the neighborhood with a backpack. Scores of young men walk with backpacks, so the prosecution will need to show that the police had ample reason to search the teen's backpack.

According to the police, they found items in the backpack that matched items that were described as missing. Whether the search and seizure was warranted may be up to a judge or jury to decide.

The 19-year-old was charged with two counts of larceny from a vehicle and larceny less than $200 plus resisting or obstructing a police officer and possession of marijuana.

The news report leads to a number of questions. Were the officers engaging in profiling? Did anyone actually witness the alleged theft? Did the officers have enough cause to search the backpack? The prosecution will need to prove the 19-year-old's guilt beyond any reasonable doubt and until then he is presumed innocent.

Source: mLIVE, "Lansing teen arraigned on multiple charges for alleged vehicle break-ins," Brandon Howell, Sept. 5, 2012

Our Lansing criminal defense law firm represents individuals accused of theft, larceny, breaking-and-entering, armed robbery and other types of property crimes.

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