Las Vegas Defense Lawyers Explain Rules for Stolen Property

Las Vegas Defense Lawyers Explain RulesIf property has been stolen or has been embezzled, a determination must be made on what exactly happens with these ill-gotten gains. Nevada law addresses this issue, with rules set forth to establish the process for disposal of property that has been obtained through theft or through wrongdoing.

If you have been accused of a theft crime or are under investigation for theft or embezzlement, you need to understand how Nevada law treats property that has allegedly been stolen, because you could face the risk of losing money or assets. You also need to be prepared to vigorously defend against accusations of wrongdoing so you can avoid prosecution and potential criminal penalties.

LV Criminal Defense has extensive experience representing defendants accused of all different types of theft and embezzlement offenses. Our legal team can provide assistance not only in responding to accusations and fighting charges, but also in working to try to protect your property.

To find out more about the ways in which we can help you in cases where theft or embezzlement crimes allegedly occurred, give us a call today to talk with Las Vegas defense attorneys who can help you.

What Happens to Stolen or Embezzled Property?

Rules for the handling of property that is allegedly stolen or embezzled are set forth in Chapter 179 of the Nevada Revised Statutes. This Chapter deals with Special Proceedings of a Criminal Nature. There is a special subsection within this chapter entitled Disposal of Property Stolen or Embezzled that establishes what law enforcement officers should do with property, what a magistrate’s role is, and what the rights of owners are.

The section on Disposal of Property Stolen or Embezzled includes N.R.S. 179.125 through N.R.S. 179.165.  Within these statutes are rules applicable to situations that can arise with property allegedly obtained through theft and embezzlement. For example:

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  • R.S. 179.125 instructs a peace officer to hold property subject to an order of the magistrate if the peace officer comes into contact with property that was allegedly stolen or allegedly embezzled.
  • R.S. 179.135 indicates that the magistrate can order property to be delivered and returned to its rightful owner after the magistrate has examined the title or other proof of ownership. A magistrate who examines proof of ownership has the authority to make this order, as does the magistrate who is examining the charges against the person accused of theft or embezzlement. The owner has to pay any reasonable, necessary expenses to preserve the property, as certified by the magistrate, if the owner wants the property to be returned.
  • R.S. 179.145 stipulates that when property that has been stolen or been embezzled comes into the custody of the magistrate, it must be delivered to the rightful owner after the owner provides proof of title and pays any necessary expenses to preserve it.
  • R.S. 179.155 indicates that if property that was stolen or embezzled has not yet been returned to its rightful owner, the return of the property to that owner should be ordered upon conviction for theft or embezzlement.

Essentially, these different statutes all command that the wrongfully obtained property should be protected by peace officers and should be sent back to the rightful owner. However, there are different processes and protocols for when and how that should happen, depending upon the circumstances.

What Notice is Required?

If property has allegedly been stolen or embezzled, and that property is subsequently discovered or identified, it is important that the owner and other interested parties be provided with notice. The owner, in other words, must be told that his missing property has been identified. N.R.S. 179.165 establishes the rules for providing appropriate notifications about stolen property or about embezzled property.

According to N.R.S. 179.165

  • In most cases where law enforcement has custody of property that has been stolen or embezzled, the agency should provide notice to the owner of the property if the agency knows, or can reasonably discover, the name and address of the owner who is entitled to the property. The notice should be provided by letter and the owner should be informed of the location of the property and the allowable method of claiming it.
  • If the property that has been stolen or embezzled is a firearm, the law enforcement agency should provide notice only to the firearm’s owner about where the firearm is located and how it should be claimed.
  • If the property was obtained from a pawnbroker, the agency must notify both the property’s owner and the pawnbroker from whom the property was obtained.

Notice has to be mailed by certified mail or by registered mail and must be made when a decision is made not to prosecute; if the person who committed the offense is convicted; or if the case is otherwise terminated.

Property that remains unclaimed six months after the owner was notified can be delivered to the county treasurer to dispose of it in accordance with Nevada law, which may allow for the sale of the property at auction in certain circumstances.

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Getting Help from Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyers

Both theft and embezzlement are very serious criminal offenses. Possible penalties could include incarceration and making restitution.  The property that you allegedly stole or embezzled will also typically be taken and returned to its rightfully owner.

You need to defend yourself from charges related to theft and embezzlement offenses so you can try to avoid the very serious consequences that conviction could bring. A conviction on your record for these offenses could have life-long consequences, as many career paths will be foreclosed to you because most employers will be concerned that you will become a repeat offender.

We have Las Vegas defense lawyers with experience in theft and embezzlement cases can provide you with invaluable assistance in responding to charges and fighting for acquittal or trying to get the best plea deal possible. You need an attorney who knows the law inside-and-out and who is prepared to fight aggressively to protect your rights.

LV Criminal Defense can help you. Give us a call as soon as you have been accused of a crime involving theft or embezzlement, or as soon as you have been accused in Las Vegas or Nevada.