What will happen if I was arrested for stealing a cell phone but returned it?

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What will happen if I was arrested for stealing a cell phone but returned it?

It is my first offense.

Asked on September 27, 2012 under Criminal Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, returning a stolen item has no bearing on the crime--once you've stolen something, you have committed the crime of theft, regardless of what later happens to that item.

That said, returning the item can help in the sense that it can cause any or all of the victim of the theft, the prosecutor, or the judge to be more lenient towards you--such as possibly dismissing the case, imposing a lesser punishment, or giving you the chance to plead to a lesser offense.


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