Theft is one of the more common juvenile crimes because at this stage in brain development, teens aren’t always the best at analyzing risk versus reward and the potential consequences of their actions. Taking something that’s not there’s simply because they want it may not seem like a big deal, but it can land them in a lot of trouble if charges get upgraded from a misdemeanor to a gross misdemeanor or felony. In today’s blog, we explain when misdemeanor theft charges can get upgraded to more serious charges.
From Misdemeanor To Felony
The most common form of theft is shoplifting, where an individual steals an item from a retail store. In order to determine what charges will be levied against the shoplifter, we need to look at the price of the goods that they attempted to steal.
- Shoplifting goods valued at less than $500 is a misdemeanor.
- Shoplifting goods valued between $500 and $1,000 is a gross misdemeanor.
- Shoplifting goods valued at more than $1,000 can lead to felony charges.
With that said, the value of the goods taken isn’t the only way a misdemeanor theft charge can be upgraded to a felony. If other important factors are present during the theft, then charges can be upgraded. For example, a person can face felony theft charges if:
- The theft creates a risk of bodily harm to another person.
- The defendant has been convicted of a theft crime in the past five years.
- The items stolen are a weapon or controlled substance.
- Theft by swindle charges are levied against the defendant.
Theft by swindle is the act of purposefully deceiving a person out of money or goods, or using your position to assume goods that are not yours. For example, theft by swindle might involve a bank manager embezzling funds from client accounts, or a retail manager marking items as defective and then selling them to friends or family at an extreme discount. Another theft by swindle example is knowingly selling counterfeit memorabilia or tickets to an event. In some cases, identity theft can also lead to felony charges.
As you can see, it doesn’t take much for theft charges to get upgraded to more serious offenses, which can lead to big fines and potential jail time. If you or a family member have been charged with theft for a stupid mistake, don’t just plead guilty and hope the judge will go easy on you. Connect with a criminal defense lawyer like Avery Appelman who can help to get the charges reduced or dropped altogether.
At Appelman Law Firm, we offer a free initial case review which allows you to sit down with a lawyer, free of charge, and talk about the specifics of your case and what you’re all facing. If you like what you hear and want us to represent you after that meeting, we’d be happy to do so. To set up that first meeting, click here or give us a call today at (952) 224-2277.