The Consequences of Stealing – Theft and the Law

Theft can include armed robbery, burglary, theft by check, forgery, unauthorized use of a vehicle, fraud, false statement to a credit agency, shoplifting and the list goes on. The consequences for stealing range from a Class C misdemeanor to felony charges, usually depending on the monetary value of what was taken. If the value of the stolen item is under $1,500 then the perpetrator will most likely be convicted of a misdemeanor. This can result in a simple fine and/or community service, but could also involve jail time, depending on the circumstances. If the item stolen was of great value, the accused will most likely be charged with a felony and will have to serve prison time. At the time of a hearing the court will be notified if there is more than one offense on the suspect’s record and this will also affect the sentencing. People who steal generally do not do it just one time.

It is important to note that in some states, stealing of any kind is considered a “crime of moral turpitude”. This means the act of stealing is not a favorable action in community standards of justice, honesty or good morals. Even if you are charged with a misdemeanor, you will have a permanent criminal record that will follow you for the rest of your life. This can have negative effects on the wrongdoer’s character personally, legally and with future employment opportunities.

One of the most common forms of stealing is shoplifting. Shoplifting is the deliberate act of taking an unpaid item from a place of business and it happens more than we are aware. A person can be convicted of shoplifting even if they don’t walk out of the store, but are found with hidden merchandise in their possession. In some states, there is even a “law of Parties” meaning that if you are with a friend who is caught stealing in a retail establishment, you can also be prosecuted even though you didn’t intend on stealing. An average of $10 billion dollars’ worth of goods is stolen from retail businesses each year. The numbers and statistics are staggering. We all pay the price for people who commit these acts by having to pay more for products when companies pad prices to recuperate losses from shoplifters. The law does not look kindly on people who shoplift.

Bottom line, stealing is never a good idea and can land you in a world of trouble. It will affect the offender in many negative ways for the rest of their lives. Stealing also affects everyone in the community, in one way or another, which is why the laws are harsh. Thieves may think that they can get away with stealing, but eventually they will get caught and will be forced to face severe consequences.