friend was charged with felony 2 theft ($100k-$200k) she has no criminal history, confesed to the crime and returnd some stolen property. i know the CCP states 2-20 yrs and a not more then 10k fine. But what is a average sentence for this type of crime?
It's hard to say what an average sentence would be in this, because there are a lot if different possibilities for what the crime involves. Honestly, one major factor is likely to be whether there's any real likelihood of her being able to pay any substantial amount of the money back if she's placed on probation. Typically, after being angry and screaming that they deserve to rot in jail, the victims often decide that if probation's the only way they'll ewe get any money back, maybe that's not so bad after all...
A large percentage of 2nd degree thefts involve aimed kind of embezzlement or misapplication of funds by someone in a fiduciary capacity, often over a number of years, and the defendants are often people who don't necessarily fit the "criminal" profile. The theft may well have started out as "borrowing", maybe to cover bills or pay for some special, one-time, unexpected expense, with the intent of paying it back before anyone noticed or missed it. Sometimes some of the money even does get paid back,and they don't get caught initially. But the temptation's there from then on, and it just becomes too much. That kind of scenario, especially if it's coupled with something like a genuine need to pay a family member's huge hospital bills, is something that very often will lead to probation if there's no prior criminal history and some chance of paying at least some of the money back. Without a doubt, a good defense attorney is needed in that kind of case, and can sometimes make all the difference between a prison sentence and a chance for a real future.
There is no real average sentence as every case has its own facts to screw things up. That said, she is likely a candidate for probation to avoid jail, however it will be a long probation and will likely include a massive restitution. If she fails the probation or the restitution she will end up going to jail.
If she doesn't have an attorney, she needs one immediately. She has confessed and is not helping her case, but if she stops assisting the police and starts assisting her attorney she can likely negotiate a better plea deal.
This is one of those situations where I am going to assume that there is no question that the evidence is sufficient that she did it, and now it comes down to damage control.
She needs to hire a lawyer who is going to be very reasonable with their fee. The case sounds like a large fee case because of the amount involved, the real potential for a first offender to go to prison, etc. And, many lawyers would charge a super high fee. But, having handled some of these in a similar stance, the truth is that the work is going to be about punishment and not that hard for the lawyer.
She will need to be able to explain why she took the money - the more reasonable the excuse (sick family member, about to lose house, etc.), the better off. Unfortunately, these type of reasons are not usually why. She might need to have a psychological evaluation (which needs to be coordinate by her lawyer to get the attorney client privilege in place) to help explain her behavior.
She needs to get super busy in "making up" for her conduct - working her butt off to make money to pay toward restitution. The more restitution she can pay up front and the greater likelihood that she will be able to continue to pay restitution, the more likely she will get probation. (The need for money for restitution is why I said don't blow everything on a lawyer. I've seen people pay $50 - $75,000 in similar circumstances and go to prison because they had little to nothing for restitution. She needs to be smart about this. She needs a good lawyer - she just doesn't need the best possible trial lawyer where there is not a question of guilt.)
She needs to gather support from friends and family - people who will help her live up to her probation by getting her to appointments if needed, helping her with psychological issues, if any, etc.
There really is no average sentence but I feel pretty comfortable in saying that if she does not get a substantial amount of restitution together and a reasonable likelihood of paying in the future, then she is more than likely going to prison (and will be paying restitution anyway when she gets out.)
It's true, it's impractical to try to assign an "average" sentence to a case like this. There are several factors which will influence the likely outcome of the case. Having no criminal history is a major plus, and it opens the door to obtaining probation from a jury in the event that the prosecution offers nothing but prison time. The reason behind the theft and your friend's relationship to the victim(s) is important, too. Betrayal and abuses of trust are tend to get heavier sentences than random thefts. A crackhead who burglarizes a house and lifts a TV also commits a second-degree felony, but is oftentimes more likely to get sympathy and understanding than the church secretary who secretly but steadily steals from the offering plate each week. Other minor factors are venue and the temperment of the prosecutor assigned to the case: some counties and some people are tougher than others on these types of cases.
How much more property can be returned and how much more money can be brought to the table now? The closer you can come to making restitution in full at the outset of a case, the better the plea deal gets, generally speaking.
I agree that if guilt is not hotly contested, you need to make sure the lawyer's fees don't get in the way of bringing more restitution to the table early on. It's common for lawyers in criminal cases to charge flat fees, but in these type of cases, an hourly rate may be the best way to compensate the lawyer and yet avoid a fee that directs too much available cash away from restitution. Above all else you need to make sure the lawyer is equipped to develop mitigating evidence and properly try the case if plea negotiations fail.
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