In most jurisdictions, a charge of theft can refer to several different actions. In legal terms, theft is the crime of taking another person’s property without their consent. This can take the form of removing property from the owner’s possession or theft by deception.
To be convicted of theft, it must be proven that the property was stolen with criminal intent. This means that the alleged perpetrator committed the theft while knowing that the property belonged to another party and that they did not have consent to take it.
Types of Theft Crimes
As stated above, criminal theft can take several different forms. Most theft crimes are considered petty theft, meaning that the stolen property was not extremely valuable. However, tough penalties still apply even for minor theft convictions and high-value thefts are punished even more strictly. Some examples of theft crimes include:
- Shoplifting. This may be the most common theft crime. Shoplifting is the action of taking an item from a store without paying for it or using deceit to avoid paying the full price of the item.
- Check Fraud. This a more serious theft charge. If a check bounces due to insufficient funds, the check writer must reimburse the item’s owner within a certain time frame or risk being charged with theft.
- Accepting Stolen Property. If someone buys or accepts an item that they know has been stolen, they can be charged with theft along with the person who originally stole the item. This is true even if someone accepted the stolen item without paying.
Penalties for Theft
- Theft of property worth less than $50 or less than $20 by check can be punished as a Class C Misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500.
- Theft of $1500 or more but less than $20,000 is a state jail felony, punishable by 180 days or up to 2 years in state jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Theft of $200,000 or more is a first degree felony, punishable by 5 to 99 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.