The state of Alabama takes theft seriously. If you have been charged with burglary, shoplifting, identity theft, criminal trespassing, or any other theft crime, the consequences of a conviction can be severe and life-changing.
Depending on the crime and some other factors, theft charges in Alabama can range from a misdemeanor to various classes of felonies, all with a range of penalties. If you’ve been accused of one of these crimes, it’s important to understand the laws on theft in Alabama.
Classification of Theft Offenses in Alabama
Property theft in Alabama is defined as knowingly taking or exercising unauthorized control over another’s property with the intention of depriving that person of their property. This also includes knowingly obtaining property by deception.
Like most U.S. states, Alabama classifies theft offenses based on the value of the property taken and, in some cases, other circumstances surrounding the crime. The type of property involved may also factor into the classification. The way that the state separates these offenses includes:
- Third Degree Theft of Property. This is a Class A misdemeanor and could apply when the value of the property does not exceed $500. If convicted of this crime, the penalty could be up to one year in jail as well as a fine of up to $6,000.
- Second Degree Theft of Property. This is a theft offense in Alabama that is classified as a Class C felony. You may be charged with this crime if the value of the property is greater than $500 but no more than $2,500. This may also apply if the alleged theft involved controlled substances, firearms, livestock, or credit or debit cards, regardless of the value. The penalty if convicted is a prison sentence ranging from 366 days to 10 years as well as a fine up to $15,000.
- First Degree Theft of Property. If the property involved has a value greater than $2,500, or if there was a theft of any motor vehicle, you could be charged with a Class B felony. A conviction could carry a penalty of two to 20 years imprisonment and a fine up to $30,000.
Potential Civil Penalties for a Theft Offense in Alabama
You may also find that a theft victim wants to pursue civil penalties to recover damages from the offender. For example, a store that has suffered a shoplifting loss can also file suit against the offender and request that they pay certain damages. These might include compensation for the loss of full retail value of the property, expenses incurred trying to recover stolen goods, and reasonable court costs and attorney’s fees.
What Are Sentencing Factors in Alabama Theft Cases?
Alabama courts review a variety of factors when determining where in the sentencing range someone might fall. The state has a habitual offender statute that permits judges to enhance punishment for someone that has a prior criminal history.
If you are arrested for a theft charge, there is also the chance that an experienced Alabama theft lawyer will be able to achieve a dismissal of charges, have your charges reduced, or get a pre-trial diversion program approved. Typically, people who are missing property would like for it to be returned, so there may be an option to negotiate this as part of a positive case outcome.
Speak with An Auburn/Opelika Theft Defense Attorney
Even misdemeanors in Alabama are serious charges and can leave you with a criminal record. If convicted of a theft crime in this state, you could spend time in jail, face heavy fines, and have this black mark follow you for the rest of your life. Any criminal conviction can make it tougher to qualify for a loan, get a job, and even find a place to live.
If you’ve been charged with a theft crime of any type, you need a strong advocate in your corner who will fight for your rights and freedom. At Alsobrook Jackson, our aggressive and experienced Alabama theft defense attorneys will review the factors of your case and use the facts to make a difference. Contact our Opelika office today at 34.737.3718 or online for a consultation to discuss how we can best approach your situation.