After being convicted of a theft or fraud crime, you can pay your court costs and fines, serve your time in prison or under community control, better known as probation, and ultimately, you can move forward once the statutory punishments are complete. However, there are lifelong consequences you cannot avoid. There will always be a criminal record of the conviction. When you try to attend a new university, apply for a job, or seek custody or visitation of your children, individuals may look at the theft conviction and believe you to be an untrustworthy person. That is why when you are faced with a theft or fraud charge, you need to understand whether you can be convicted of a misdemeanor or felony theft crime and how you can best defend yourself.
Understanding the Levels of Theft
The crime of theft is defined as an individual, with the purpose to deprive an owner of his or her property or services, knowingly obtaining or exerting control over the property or services:
- By threat,
- By intimidation,
- By deception,
- Beyond the scope of the owner’s implied or express consent, or
- Without the consent of the owner or individual authorized to provide consent.
However, not all theft crimes are treated equally under the law. The charges brought against you will depend on the value of the cash, property or services you are accused of taking. The charges may also depend on the exact items you allegedly took, such as if you are charged with stealing firearms, and whether the owner of the property or service was elderly or disabled.
When prosecutors charge you with shoplifting a few items or petty theft, you likely face fewer and less harsh consequences. Petty theft, which is categorized as any theft that is not a felony and of property or services worth less than $1,000, is a first-degree misdemeanor crime. You can be sentenced to jail for up to 180 days, community control, and fined. If prosecutors have evidence that you stole property, money, or services worth more than $1,000, you will be charged with a felony.
Ohio Felony Theft Charges by Value
Depending on the value and items you are said to have taken, you may face a fifth through first-degree felony. While a first-degree felony carries with it the harshest punishments, you should take any felony theft charge seriously and work with an experienced theft attorney to defend against the charges. You should always do what you can to avoid a felony conviction in your background.
Felony theft charges are tiered based on the value of cash, property or services stolen:
- More than $1,000 and less than $7,000 is theft and a fifth-degree felony, punishable by up to 12 months in prison
- More than $7,000 and less than $150,000 is grand theft and a fourth-degree felony, punishable by up to 18 months in prison
- More than $150,000 and less than $750,000 is aggravated theft and a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 36 months in prison
- More than $750,000 and less than $1.5 million is aggravated theft and a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 8 years in prison
- More than $1.5 million is aggravated theft and a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 11 years in prison
Ohio Felony Theft Charges by Item
The charges can differ based on the items you allegedly stole, no matter their value. If you are charged with taking a vehicle, this will be grand theft, a fourth-degree felony. If you are charged with taking dangerous drugs, this is also a fourth-degree felony. However, you will face a third-degree felony for drug theft if you were previously convicted of a drug offense. If prosecutors believe you stole a firearm, this is a third-degree felony, unless it was from a federally licenses firearms dealer. Then you will be charged with a first-degree felony.
Theft From a Disabled or Elderly Individual
You will face much harsher charges if you allegedly stole from someone within a protected class, such as an individual with a disability, an elderly person, or an active duty service member. Under the law, any theft from one of these individuals is a fifth-degree felony, unless the property or services are valued at more than $1,000. The structure for charges of theft from a protected victim is:
- More than $1,000 and less than $7,000, a fourth-degree felony
- More than $7,000 and less than $37,500, a third-degree felony
- More than $37,500 and less than $150,000, a second-degree felony
- More than $150,000, a first-degree felony
Contact a Columbus Criminal Attorney for Help
Theft charges can easily add up to a serious felony offense that can result in spending years in prison and paying significant fines. When you face a felony theft offense, you need to contact a theft attorney from Luftman, Heck & Associates right away. We understand the nuances of Ohio theft law. We will tenaciously advocate for reduced charges, possibly in a plea bargain. However, if we go to trial, we will provide you with the strongest defense possible under the law.
Call us today at (614) 500-3836 to schedule a free consultation.