Any action that someone takes in Ohio with the intent to deprive someone else of resources that legally belong to them may constitute a theft offense under state law. There are many different kinds of theft that occur regularly throughout Ohio, including shoplifting or stealing from retail establishments and burglary or breaking into private property to steal.
Many people accused of theft offenses in Ohio will face misdemeanor criminal charges, but sometimes prosecutors will pursue felony charges instead. When might a simple theft offense lead to a felony charge under Ohio state law?
When the property is worth $1,000 or more
When the total combined value of the resources someone stole or attempted to steal was $1,000 or more, they will very likely face a felony charge. Many people accused of a shoplifting offense might only face misdemeanor charges unless they target jewelry or designer hoods. However, burglaries and robberies involving valuable items or cash could quickly exceed that threshold and results in felony charges.
The classification of the felony offense will increase as the value of the stolen assets goes up. The difference in consequences between a felony and misdemeanor charge is also quite serious, as is the difference between a low-level felony charge and the most serious charge possible.
A misdemeanor will mean up to six months in jail, fines of up to $1,000, court costs and restitution to the victim. Fifth-degree felony charges could mean up to 12 months in jail and fines of up to $2,500, while first-degree felony theft charges could lead to up to 11 years in prison and $20,000 in fines.
When someone targets specific personal property
Ohio state law imposes enhanced charges on certain kinds of assets. Individuals accused of stealing firearms will face a felony charge even if the weapon is only worth a few hundred dollars. The same is true for credit cards, vehicles, certain chemicals, assistance dogs and working police animals. The state also imposes enhanced sentencing when the victim of the offense is someone who belongs to a protected class.
Rather than quickly pleading guilty to pending theft charges, it may benefit you to fight back against the allegations you currently face. Learning more about state law can help you determine the best criminal defense strategy for your situation.