Defending Pickpocketing and Purse Snatching Charges

Although pickpocketing and purse snatching may not seem serious to some people, judges and prosecutors have a different view. These allegations are usually charged as larceny or unarmed robbery.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorneys - Group

Pickpocketing and Purse Snatching

If a person steals an item from a person holding it, carrying it, or wearing it, the law considers this more severe than stealing from another person’s property (such as their home or business) or car. Pickpocketing and Purse Snatching are considered more serious because there is a heightened danger of personal injury because of the proximity to the other person. The direct consequences of a conviction can include jail, probation, and fines. The indirect or collateral consequences might include a damaged reputation, difficulty finding or securing employment, trouble advancing in a career, loss or limitation of a professional license, loss of public health benefits, loss of civil rights, such as the ability to own or possess a firearm, and more. If you face charges, don’t worry. You are in the right place to find the necessary information for your defense.

Crimes of Theft and Larceny

There are many types of theft, also known as larceny, and the penalties are different based on how the theft was accomplished and how much was taken. The penalty will increase if the danger to the victim increases based on how the theft was accomplished. For example, the penalties for minor shoplifting (93 days in jail) are far less severe than for armed robbery (life in prison).

Aside from pickpocketing and purse-snatching, some of the most common types of non-violent thefts are shoplifting, stealing bicycles, larceny in buildings, thefts from cars, and thefts from coin-operated machines. The theft of vehicles is so common that this crime has a separate offense category.


Pickpocketing and purse snatching are nicknames for crimes such as larceny from a person and unarmed robbery. As the term implies, pickpocketing occurs when someone reaches into another’s pocket or purse and removes something of value. Stealing from a person without using force or stealing something closely connected to that person (such as a purse) is legally known as “Larceny from a Person.” Larceny from a Person is punishable by 10 years in prison and five (5) years of probation. If physical force is used, such as physically overcoming the victim’s hold of the property, this will constitute an “Unarmed Robbery,” a 15-year felony, with five (5) years of probation.

Attorney - Michigan - Awards

Purse Snatching

Snatching a purse from the physical possession of another person or from an area close to that person would constitute either a Larceny from a Person or Unarmed Robbery, depending on the amount of force used. For example, a purse could be grabbed from a shopping cart or off a picnic table in a park. If no force is used, the offense will constitute larceny from a person, a 10-year felony. As with the shopping cart example, if the shopper saw what was happening and ended up in a tug-of-war situation with the alleged offender, such would constitute the crime of unarmed robbery, a 15-year felony.

Defending Pickpocketing and Purse Snatching Cases

It is challenging to construct a defense against either of these charges. Some of the usual possible defenses to charges, such as no intent to steal, mistake, or consent, may not be available. The most common defense against pickpocketing and purse snatching is mistaken identity. However, even if there are no defenses at all, and a person is caught red-handed and confesses, there is always something a top-rated, astute defense expert attorney can do to help his client. Even if an attorney can’t get the charges dismissed, such an attorney can work to arrange a favorable plea agreement, which might involve a reduced charge, a reduced penalty, and a sentence focusing on rehabilitation instead of jail. So, if you face one of these charges, all is not lost. 

Theft cases are often impulse-based or compulsive acts. Sometimes, theft is not a product of dishonesty or greed. Actions such as these can result from stress, impulsivity, lack of self-worth, compulsion, or another mental health condition. Sometimes, thefts are committed when a person desires to be caught because they are crying out for attention or help for psychological reasons. A seasoned, respected defense attorney can argue that treatment and counseling are a more appropriate sentence than jail.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

Defense Attorneys for Pickpocketing and Purse Snatching Charges in Michigan

The non-judgmental, top-rated attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. are able to devise a strategy to protect our clients, no matter the odds. We have successfully defended thousands of clients over decades against charges, including pickpocketing and purse snatching, in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw, and Livingston counties and throughout Michigan. Call us for a free consultation. We will take the time to speak with you, answer your questions, and address your concerns. We will find a way to help you!

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

Contact Us - Michigan Criminal Defense Attorneys