A judge in Bedford, Virginia, imposed a 1-year jail sentence on theft and vandalism charges. Thetheft-related charges grew out of an incident last December in which the defendant, allegedly acting together with two other men, took a Christmas nativity scene from the Shiloh United Methodist Church in Forest, Virginia. Prosecutors claimed the property was worth approximately $2,000, and that the men subsequently destroyed it.
The defendant initially faced felony charges of destruction of property worth over $2,000, as well as grand larceny. After church officials indicated they did not want to impose felony charges on the defendant, he was allowed to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges of destruction of property and petit larceny. The judge in the case sentenced the man to one year in jail on each charge, but six months of each sentence was suspended. Each sentence will be served consecutively, though.
The prosecution obtained evidence of the theft after the men posted pictures of themselves with the Nativity scene on Facebook. The scene included figures of the three wise men, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. The men were accused of later destroying the figures by cutting them up and depositing them into the local dump. The other two adult men charged in the incident still have pending court hearings. Two juveniles who were accused of involvement in the same incident were sentenced to restitution of $500 and community service in juvenile proceedings.
Experienced criminal defense attorneys work diligently to build a strong defense for their clients. Felony theft charges, upon conviction, can often result in incarceration for several years, making it important for anyone facing such charges to retain a skilled criminal defense attorney at the earliest possible opportunity.
Source: TimesDispatch.com, "Man pleads guilty to theft, destruction of nativity scene" No author given, Jul. 31, 2013