Everyone makes mistakes in life, and no one is perfect. It just so happens that sometimes people’s mistakes result in committing a crime for which they are arrested – crimes like theft.
Theft charges in Minnesota can greatly impact your life, but they don’t have to ruin it. It’s important to understand, however, the ways in which a theft charge and conviction can change your life, not just in the short term but in the long term, as well.
Here’s what you need to know about theft in Minnesota and the consequences, both criminal and non-criminal, that can result.
What Is Theft in Minnesota?
Under Minnesota law, a person commits theft if they take any of these actions:
- Using, hiding, keeping, or transferring ownership of property knowingly that belongs to another person
- Driving or taking someone’s vehicle without their permission
- Taking custody or ownership of property or services by falsely representing yourself
- Renting or leasing personal property without paying for it or returning it
- Pirating cable television
- Finding misplaced or lost property and not making an attempt to get it back to its owner
The penalties for committing theft in Minnesota depend on the value of the stolen property. If it is $500 or less, it’s generally a misdemeanor charge. You can be charged with a gross misdemeanor for property valued at more than $500 but less than $1000. Finally, felony theft can be charged if the value exceeds $1,000.
If you are found guilty of theft, then you face criminal penalties. For misdemeanor theft, you can spend up to three months in jail and be required to pay fines of up to $1,000. For gross misdemeanor theft, you can spend up to 12 months in jail and be required to pay fines of up to $3,000. For the most serious theft charge, felony theft, you can be sentenced to up to five years of incarceration and be required to pay $10,000 in fines.
However, felony theft penalties do increase with the property’s value, going all the way up to the property with value over $35,000, which can send you to prison for up to 20 years and require you to pay fines of up to $100,000.
Penalties can also be enhanced if you have any other theft offenses on your criminal record in the past five years or if the offense caused bodily harm to another.
Beyond time incarcerated and fines, there are other ways that a theft conviction can impact your life. A criminal record that includes theft, which will follow you forever, can impact your employment, especially any job requiring handling money. It can also impact promotions at work and your ability to get accepted into colleges to earn a degree.
There are also civil penalties that can come into play. In Minnesota, those convicted of theft are civilly liable to the person against whom they committed theft for the value of the property they took. They are also liable for any punitive damages the court assigns.
Theft impacts your life in various ways, but it doesn’t mean your future won’t go anywhere. With the help of an experienced attorney, you can fight back against theft charges.
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 has been 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.