A theft crime can appear as a misdemeanor or felony offense in Minnesota, depending on the stolen property’s value and surrounding circumstances. If you or a loved one have been arrested for theft, it’s vital to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. The crime of theft can result in serious jail time and fines, depending on the severity of the offense. Moreover, even a misdemeanor theft can carry long-term consequences affecting one’s ability to find and maintain employment.
Understanding Theft Under Minnesota Law
Theft in Minnesota covers many different types of crimes, from petty larceny and shoplifting to motor vehicle and robbery. The term “theft” acts as a blanket term for many specific crimes within this category. Many believe theft is simply about taking something without permission; however, finding lost or stolen belongings and not returning the item(s) to the rightful owner is also considered theft. Under Minnesota law, an individual has committed theft when:
- Knowingly taking, using, transferring, or concealing another individual’s property without consent
- Filing false medical claims
- Stealing or driving a motor vehicle without the owner’s permission
- Renting or leasing personal property without payment
- Stealing services or property by false representation or swindle
- Stealing property, services, money, or merchandise
Different Types of Theft
There are many kinds of theft or property crimes that can occur; however, some are more common than others. Below you’ll find a few types of theft that happen nationwide:
- Theft/Larceny: Unlawfully taking or using property that belongs to another individual or entity. Larceny is commonly referred to as simple theft but can range in possible charges depending on the crime’s key details, such as where it was taken from, the stolen item(s) value, and the type of property.
- Identity: Personal information has slowly become easier to obtain, which means identity theft is more common than some may think. Your name, bank account, credit card information, and other personally-identifying information can be accessed without your permission. If this occurs, it can be damaging to the victim’s credit score and financial resources. Depending on the severity of the crime, identity theft can be considered a federal offense.
- Robbery: If violence, intimidation, or threats are utilized to obtain property, it’s likely a robbery. Armed robbery and mugging are both examples of added elements of threat or violence used to obtain an item. If an individual acts with a weapon or violence, the court may decide to file multiple charges and an offense entailing a mandatory prison sentence.
- Fraud: Deceiving someone to willingly give up property but under false pretenses is usually categorized as fraud. Embezzlement, counterfeiting, and false income reports are all examples of fraud. Fraud is considered a “white collar” crime as no violence is involved, and business dealings occur to obtain the property.
Like many other locations throughout the United States, the state of Minnesota categorizes theft offenses with consideration to the dollar value of the property or services taken. There are currently five levels of theft under Minnesota law, each ranging in punishment severity.
- < $500: If the property or services taken value is less than $500, an individual will likely be charged with a petty theft misdemeanor. This charge may result in a punishment of up to $1,000 in fines and up to 90 days in jail. (MN Stat § 609.52)
- $500 to $1,000: If the property or services taken value is between $500 and $1,000, the tried individual may receive punishments of up to $3,000 in fines and up to one year in jail. (MN Stat § 609.52)
- $1,000 to $5,000: If the value of the property or services taken is between $1,000 and $5,000, the tried individual may receive punishments of up to $10,000 in fines and at most five years in jail. (MN Stat § 609.52) Theft offenses can also include the following at this level:
- Theft of Schedule III, IV, or V controlled substances
- Theft of property or services between $500 and $1,000 with a similar prior conviction within five years in Minnesota or a different state
- Theft of property under $1,000 when taken from a grave, corpse, or coffin, is a court or public record, is taken during a disaster or riot, or is a motor vehicle
- > $5,000: If the value of the property or services taken is more than $5,000, the tried individual may receive punishments of up to $20,000 in fines, up to ten years in jail, or both. (MN Stat § 609.52) Theft offenses can also include the following at this level:
- Theft of an explosive or incendiary device
- Theft of a trade secret
- Theft of Schedule I or II controlled substances to exclude marijuana
- > $35,000: If the value of the property or services taken is more than $35,000, the tried individual may receive punishments of up to $100,000 in fines, up to twenty years in jail, or both. (MN Stat § 609.52) Theft offense can also include the following at this level:
- Theft of any firearm regardless of value
- Theft of services or property valued more than $35,000 because of deceit, fraud, or a vulnerable adult victim
Civil Penalties and Prior Convictions
While the individual who commits theft will receive punishments outlined above, they will also be civilly liable to the property’s owner for an amount equal to the dollar value of the property at the time it was stolen as well as punitive damages. Those with a previous theft-related conviction within the last five years will likely receive a punishment of a fine of up to $10,000, up to five years in jail, or both. This applies to crimes that occurred both in Minnesota and elsewhere.
Contact a Dedicated Minneapolis Theft Defense Lawyer Today
Have you recently been arrested for a theft or property crime? A theft or property crime charge shouldn’t change your life forever, but your employment status and opportunities can be drastically impacted without proper representation. Criminal defense attorney, Lauren Campoli, is aware that theft charges are confusing and embarrassing. She will navigate the legal complexities and give you the peace of mind that comes from over a decade of experiencing theft and theft-related cases. Lauren believes in vigorous representation and second chances.