Misdemeanor and Felony Theft
Interviewer: Today we’ll talk about theft crimes. Let’s start at the lowest levels of theft. That would include shoplifting and other petty offenses. What are some of the offenses that you see commonly that deal with theft and what are they called?
Adam: In the category of general theft we have misdemeanor theft charges. Typically the distinction is the value of the item, or there are special mitigating factors, for example, if it’s a credit card, it’s automatically going to become a felony, regardless of how little it was used.
Interviewer: Let’s start at the levels. What are the levels, the dollar amounts where it’s the lowest level of theft and where are the breakouts? Is it at 100 dollars, at 300 dollars? What are the numbers?
What Determines a Felony Charge?
Adam: For example, if the crime involved an elderly person as the victim, that kind of circumstance would change the charge substantially into a felony.
Interviewer: What are the basics then? Shoplifting crimes tend to be misdemeanors. For shoplifting crimes, where are the dollar amounts at which these would commonly occur?
Adam: The charge switches over to a felony when the value of, for example, merchandise is in excess of $1,000. There can be other mitigating factors that could bump it up into a felony, such as what I just mentioned regarding the elderly victim. More than likely, they’re looking at anything with a value over $1000.
Misdemeanor Charges Versus Felony Charges
Interviewer: Typically if someone steals from a store and the item they take, or the items, are less than $1,000, it’s likely they’re going to be charged with a misdemeanor as opposed to a felony. Is that right?
The State of Ohio Recently Changed the Limits for Misdemeanor Charges
Adam: Yes. That’s just recently changed because it used to be only anything over $500.00, but it has increased.
Interviewer: That’s good to know. They raised the limits recently?
Adam: Yes. Ohio tried to restructure their public employee system. They wanted to waste less money on people in jail, or prison. There were too many felonies at that low dollar level. To save money on prisons, they increased the level for misdemeanor charges.
Interviewer: It’s not necessarily out of the goodness of their heart. People in Ohio have fallen on hard economic times and, to accommodate them, they raised the limit. It’s more due to the fact that it reduces their workload and their spending. Is that right?
Adam: Yes, that is correct.
By Adam Hunt