Theft Penalties

Eden Prairie criminal defense attorney Martin Azarian discusses theft under Minnesota laws and the penalties if you are convicted.

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Theft in Minnesota is essentially the intent of a person to permanently deprive another of their property. There are different types of thefts. We have the misdemeanor theft, which is theft that involves zero up to $500.00 in terms of property value, from $500.00 to $1,000.00 that would be a gross misdemeanor and then we have felony theft. Anything over $1,000.00 is considered a felony. With respect to potential punishments, with a misdemeanor its zero to 90 days in jail and a fine. With respect to gross misdemeanors, it’s zero to a year in jail with a $3,000.00 fine maximum. And with respect to felonies then, obviously, the penalty is a year and a day or more with substantially higher fines.

Now interestingly enough in Minnesota we don’t have a statute that deals with what’s called petty misdemeanor theft. Many people call and ask well, I’m being charged or they say I’m being charged with petty theft. Actually, that’s not a correct statement of the law. We do have petty thefts but they only exist in a courtroom so long as the judge proves or sentences the person to less than a $300.00 fine. Unfortunately, if you’re charged with shoplifting, for example, there is no such thing as petty shoplifting it is a crime. It is not a payable offense; you must go to court. Even if it were a payable offense, why would you pay it you’re giving yourself a record you don’t want to do that?

Thefts take many forms, there’s shoplifting, there’s employee theft; there is embezzlement, which is a form of employee theft. There’s also what we call welfare fraud that’s not what the statute defines or calls it but we have a thing called welfare fraud and that’s when people wrongfully obtain public assistance. If you’re on welfare, if you’re getting aid from the state or the county, or the federal government and you do so wrongfully in most cases that could be charged out as a felony because the amounts quickly add up to over $1,000.00.

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