When it comes to arrests for non-violent and low-level crimes, law enforcement agencies in Minnesota have shifted their focus. For instance, the Star Tribune reports Twin Cities law enforcement is looking to tackle crimes that pose a clear threat to society right now.
All of this, an effort to curtail court proceedings and reduce jail populations in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. So does this mean that non-violent offenders are off the hook?
Minnesota Police Are Reprioritizing, Not Turning a Blind Eye
County Sheriffs, Police Chiefs, and county attorneys have explained that while they may not be prioritizing lower-level non-violent offenses, that doesn’t mean they’re turning a blind eye to all non-violent crimes.
While shoplifting often results in a misdemeanor charge, there is a point it is considered a felony. Felony retail theft is one case MN police aren’t going to let slide.
So when does a retail theft crime turn from a misdemeanor crime into a felony? Are non-violent felony crimes like retail theft still a priority? Read on to find out.
What Is Retail Theft in Minnesota?
Shoplifting is the most commonly known form of retail theft, but there are actually a number of crimes that fall under the same umbrella. These include:
- Stealing property, merchandise, money, or services
- Taking, transferring, concealing, or using another person’s property without consent
- Stealing property or services through false representation
- Filing false medical claims
- Renting personal property without paying for it
The nature of the crime committed will determine whether you are charged with a felony or a misdemeanor here in Minnesota.
When Is a Theft in MN Charged as a Misdemeanor?
When someone steals services, property, or merchandise in Minnesota that is valued at less than $500, then it’s considered misdemeanor theft. This is punishable by:
- As many as 90 days in jail
- Up to $1,000 in fines
A person can be charged with a gross misdemeanor for theft if the value of the property is more than $500 but less than $1,000. Gross misdemeanors are punishable by:
- Up to 1 year in jail
- Up to $3,000 in fines
When Does Theft Become a Felony in Minnesota?
When a person is caught committing a gross misdemeanor and has a recent history of theft, then they can be charged with a felony offense. When this happens your gross misdemeanor offense may shift to a felony charge, which carries these penalties:
- Up to five years in jail
- Fines up to $10,000
A person may also be charged with felony theft even without a criminal history. When the value of the property an offender takes is worth between $5,000 and $35,000 OR if the property taken is a trade secret, an explosive, or a Schedule I or II controlled substance, it may be subject to felony charges.
Additionally, if a firearm was used in the commission of the theft, and it resulted in bodily harm, or the firearm was stolen as part of the theft crime, this may result in felony theft charges as well. Conviction of any of these scenarios leaves an offender subject to:
- Up to 20 years in prison
- Up to $100,000 in fines
Minnesota Theft Penalties Beyond Jail Time and Fines
It’s also important to note that in Minnesota, the perpetrator of a theft crime is liable to the property owner for an amount equal to the value of the property stolen on top of any criminal penalties. Punitive damages can also be added that can equal up to 100 percent of the property’s value.
There is a very fine line between misdemeanor and felony charges of theft in Minnesota. If the stolen property is worth more than $1,000 and you have been convicted of theft in the last five years.
This can catch offenders off guard since they may not realize just how little the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor theft is, which is why you must know your rights if charged with theft in Minnesota.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is an AV-Preeminent rated criminal and DWI defense attorney based in Minneapolis who is known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge and named a Certified Specialist in Criminal Law by the Minnesota Bar Association. Mr. Keyers is Lead Counsel rated, and he has received recognition for his criminal law work from Avvo, Expertise, Super Lawyers, The National Trial Lawyers, and more.