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Know the risks of facing a theft charge

On Behalf of | Nov 10, 2021 | Criminal charges

The holidays are approaching, which is why it’s a good time to talk to your friends and family about the dangers of shoplifting and theft. This time of year creates a kind of perfect storm where people may feel financially stretched while wanting to purchase items for friends, family and colleagues. Unfortunately, if they commit theft or shoplift, they could face serious repercussions upon getting caught.

Basic theft is often charged as a disorderly person’s offense, and it can be punished with up to six months in jail. For a petty offense, the jail time may be lowered to just 30 days.

Theft can be charged at different levels. Here’s what you should know about higher-level accusations.

Second-, third-, and fourth-degree theft

When the property stolen is valued at over $75,000, then a second-degree theft charge may be used. This could result in imprisonment for between five and 10 years, and the fines can be in excess of $150,000.

Third-degree theft is different because it is for property valued at up to $75,000. People who commit third-degree theft may face between three and five years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines. This might also apply to cases where airplanes, horses or firearms are stolen.

If the value of the property stolen is $200 to $500, there is a potential for a fourth-degree theft charge. This charge is punishable with up to $10,000 in fines and up to 18 months in jail.

The interesting thing about these charges is the monetary limits. Someone who steals an item valued at $1,000 could face penalties similar to someone who steals items valued at $74,000. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your purchases go through correctly and that you’re using your own credit cards or debit cards. If you’re accused of theft in combination with other charges, like identity theft, you could face even more significant penalties than those noted above.

What should you do if you face a theft charge?

If you face a charge for theft, it is in your best interests to look into options to defend yourself. You could end up facing time in jail or prison, so it’s worth building a defense.