Taking something that does not belong to you might seem like a minor situation, especially in matters where it was not intentional or you planned on returning it. Nonetheless, theft can be treated rather seriously and could result in harsh criminal consequences. Thus, it is important to understand what theft is and how serious the penalties could be for this crime.
Depending on the situation, a theft charge can carry penalties that range from minor to severe. Various factors come into play when establishing the seriousness of this crime. Even if these factors appear minor and insignificant, they can have a major impact on the penalties faced by the accused, even causing future consequences when they attempt to seek employment.
What are the penalties for theft? If the item is not very valuable, this could result in misdemeanor charges. However, if the item supposedly stolen is very valuable, this will likely result in felony charges.
Low value items stolen result in petit theft charges, which usually covers items worth $500 to $1000. These charges carry short jail terms and fines. It should be noted that these penalties could increase if a person is a repeat offender. The three strikes law may be applicable in certain cases.
For more valuable property, those that exceed the threshold for petit theft, the charges will be grand theft. This is a felony charge and can result in serious penalties, such as fines, restitution and jail time. Depending on the item, the accused could face specific penalties laid out by separate theft laws. For example, grand theft auto carries its own penalties.
Having a theft charge on your record can be extremely detrimental. Thus, it is important to understand ways to reduce the impacts criminal allegations could have. This means taking the time to understand the charges and devising a criminal defense strategy.