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Understanding the severity of theft charges – II

In our last post, we spent some time discussing how people here in Tennessee should never make the mistake of thinking that theft crimes somehow aren’t a priority for prosecutors or that the consequences for a theft crime conviction typically amount to nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

To that end, we explained how state law defines theft of property as occurring when a person knowingly obtains or exercises control over property without the owner’s effective consent and with the intent to deprive them of it.  

Furthermore, we explained how the determination as to whether felony or misdemeanor charges are brought depends upon the value of the goods involved, such that the lower the total value, the lower the gradation of criminal offense and the potential penalties, and vice versa.

To illustrate how this works, consider the following:

  • A person will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor if the value of the stolen property is $500 or less; A conviction on these charges can result in no more than 11 months and 29 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
  • A person will be charged with a Class E felony if the value of the stolen property is more than $500 but less than $1,000; A conviction on these charges can result in no less than one year or no more than six years in prison and/or a fine of up to $3,000.
  • A person will be charged with a Class D felony if the value of the stolen property is $1,000 or more, but less than $10,000; A conviction on these charges can result in no less than two years or no more than 12 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
  • A person will be charged with a Class C felony if the value of the stolen property is $10,000 or more, but less than $60,000; A conviction on these charges can result in no less than three years or no more than 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
  • A person will be charged with a Class B felony if the value of the stolen property is $60,000 or more, but less than $250,000; A conviction on these charges can result in no less than eight years or no more than 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000.
  • A person will be charged with a Class A felony if the value of the stolen property is $250,000 or more; A conviction on these charges can result in no less than 15 years or no more than 60 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $50,000.

What the following should serve to illustrate is that the consequences of a conviction on theft charges are very real and very serious. Indeed, in addition to these fines and periods of incarceration, a person also faces the uncertain job prospects, limited educational opportunities and other unfair consequences that come from having a permanent criminal record.

In light of all this, anyone facing theft charges should serious consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible. 

State Bar of Georgia
TBA | Tennessee Bar Association
CBA | Chattanooga Bar Association
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