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Felony theft: What is it, and when does it apply to an offense?

On Behalf of | Aug 22, 2017 | Firm News

Keeping pace with inflation is something one might reasonably expect to hear regarding a financial or economic topic, right? We suspect that something like wage raises comes quickly to mind for many of our blog readers across Arkansas.

Subject matter from the criminal law sphere, though, also comes to the fore recurrently in an inflation-linked discussion, at least for commentators closely focused upon sentencing outcomes, namely this: felony theft.

And here is why, as noted in a recent criminal justice report focused upon that issue: There is no national uniformity regarding felony theft, which breeds a highly singular bottom line.

To wit: An individual stealing a select item from a store in one state might be convicted on a relatively light misdemeanor charge, whereas a person convicted of a theft offense in another state relating to the same product might be sent to prison for a number of years on a felony charge.

The disparity across the country is sheer. The minimum dollar threshold for a theft to be termed a felony in Virginia is a mere $200. Conversely, it is $2,500 in Wisconsin and Texas.

Many people find that marked disparity troubling, noting that making the punishment fit the crime is a murky proposition when the standards are variable and highly differentiated across state lines.

A number of states, notes the above-cited report, “have hiked thresholds multiple times in the last few years.” Notwithstanding the convergence toward a greater national consistency, though, some states continue to be holdouts in their resistance to making changes from low threshold amounts enacted decades ago.

Arkansas authorities regard a theft as a misdemeanor offense when the value of items stolen is less than $1,000. In cases where the value exceeds that amount, a so-called “Class D” felony theft applies, which carries far more stringent criminal penalties.