In Minnesota, defendants may face misdemeanor or felony theft charges. Specific charges and sentences imposed will depend on the circumstances of the alleged offense and the value of the stolen property.
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Misdemeanor vs Felony Theft Charges
Depending on the nature of the crime, Minnesota theft offenses may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, and sometimes there is a fine line between the two. Theft convictions in Minnesota encompass a number of different crimes, including:
- Stealing money, merchandise, services, or property
- Stealing services or property by false representation or swindle
- Taking, using, transferring, or concealing another person’s property without consent
- Renting personal property without paying for it
- Taking or driving another person’s car without permission
- Filing false medical claims
Misdemeanor Theft Charges
In Minnesota, misdemeanor theft occurs when a person steals merchandise, services, or property valued at less than $500. A misdemeanor theft charge is punishable by fines up to $1,000 and jail time up to 90 days. If the property is valued between $500 and $1,000, the crime becomes a gross misdemeanor with fines up to $3,000 and jail time up to one year. If the person who commits a gross misdemeanor has a recent history of theft, the charge becomes a felony offense with fines up to $10,000 and a jail sentence up to five years.
Felony Theft Charges
A person who commits theft can face felony charges with fines between $20,000 and $100,000 and a potential prison sentence of 10 to 20 years, if the following occurs: the stolen property is valued between $5,000 and $35,000; the stolen property is an explosive or trade secret; the stolen property is a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance; or the use of a firearm creates bodily harm or the firearm is stolen during the crime.
When theft is committed in Minnesota, the perpetrator is liable to the property owner for the amount equal to the stolen property’s value, in addition to criminal penalties. The offender must also pay the property owner punitive damages equaling $50 or up to 100% of the property’s value – whichever value is greater. Under Minnesota law, felony theft charges can have a life-long impact. With a criminal record, a person may encounter problems finding housing, getting a job, and qualifying for a credit card or a loan. In some occupations, even a petty theft misdemeanor can result in a job suspension or termination. Hiring a criminal defense lawyer can help defendants reduce theft charges and, as a result, reduce the impact on their lives. In some cases, an attorney can help achieve an expungement of theft charges.