Petty Theft vs. Felony Theft in Ohio

Ohio distinguishes between petty theft and felony theft based on the value of the property allegedly stolen. In today’s blog, we discuss what constitutes a petty theft and the various penalties for the different levels of felony theft, from grand theft to aggravated theft.

Petty Theft vs. Felony Theft

In Ohio, theft refers to the unauthorized taking of property by an individual intending to permanently deprive the owner of the property or its service. Ohio’s criminal statutes explicitly prohibit “knowingly obtaining” or “exerting control” over someone else’s property or services:

  • without the consent of the owner;
  • beyond the scope of the owner’s permission;
  • by deception;
  • by threat; or
  • by intimidation.

Ohio classifies theft offenses according to the value of the property or services stolen, which determines whether the offense is a petty theft with misdemeanor consequences or a felony with harsher sentencing.

Petty Theft Penalties

Petty theft is a misdemeanor of the first degree and occurs when the value of the property stolen is less than $1,000. Petty theft in Ohio is punishable by:

  • a maximum fine of $1,000 and/or
  • up to 180 days in jail.

Felony Theft Penalties

A theft in Ohio is considered a felony if the value of the property stolen is worth more than $1,000. Felony theft can be in the first, second, third, fourth, or fifth degree, depending on the property in question. The least severe felony theft is felony of the fifth degree, which occurs when:

  • the value of the property or services stolen is worth $1,000-$7,500;
  • the property is a credit/debt card, check, or other negotiable instrument; or
  • the property is a vehicle license plate or temporary placard, a blank vehicle title form, or a blank form for a driver's license.

The punishment for a felony theft of the fifth degree includes a prison sentence ranging from 6 to 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500.

When the value of property or services stolen is $7,500-$150,000, or the property is a motor vehicle or any dangerous drug, the offense is considered grand theft. Grand theft is a felony of the fourth degree punishable by 6 to 18 months in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.

Aggravated theft is a felony of the third, second, or first degree. A felony theft of the third degree occurs when:

  • the value of property or services stolen is $150,000-$750,000; or
  • the property is a firearm or anhydrous ammonia.

The punishment for a felony of the third degree in Ohio could be 1 to 5 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

An aggravated theft of the second degree occurs when the value of property or services stolen is $750,000-$1,500,000, and such an offense is punishable by a prison term ranging from 2 to 8 years and no more than $15,000 in fines.

Lastly, a felony theft of the first degree occurs when the value of property or services stolen is more than $1,500,000, and you could face 3 to 11 years in prison and a fine up to $20,000.

Civil Penalties

Note that in addition to criminal penalties, a person who commits theft in Ohio may be civilly liable to the owner of the property, such as a store owner, for financial damages that might include:

  • the monetary or retail value of the property stolen;
  • other compensatory damages;
  • liquidated damages in an amount set by Ohio statute (usually at least $200); and
  • the reasonable administrative costs associated with bringing the civil suit.

Let an Experienced Lawyer Handle Your Case

If you are facing charges related to petty or felony theft, contact an attorney immediately for legal representation. The legal team at Bridges, Jillisky, Streng, Weller & Gullifer, LLC can evaluate the facts of your case and help determine your best next steps to fight your charge, whether it be arguing for mitigated charges or a complete dismissal.

Put knowledge and experience on your side with Bridges, Jillisky, Streng, Wller & Gullifer, LLC. Contact our firm today for a free consultation.

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