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Theft Lawyer in Alabama: Theft Laws and Penalties by Class

By: Alabama Theft Attorney Whitney Polson, Criminal Defense Lawyer and Book Author in Birmingham AL

ArrestThe penalty that follows an Alabama theft crimes conviction depends on multiple factors. One is the original classification of the Alabama theft charge, when arrested or indicted. Class B felonies are the most serious and are punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Felony Theft Amount Alabama Guidelines. Theft by deception Alabama charges can be classified as a Class B felony, a Class C felony Alabama, a Class D felony Alabama, or as a Class A misdemeanor Alabama. No theft crimes in Alabama are Class A felonies, which are are punishable by life in prison or a definite term of 10 to 99 years. 

The dollar amount involved is one factor in determining maximum theft penalties, such as for a theft by deception felony. In some instances, especially for youthful offenders with no prior history obtains property of another, some type of diversion or possibly a disorderly conduct charge might be negotiated.

However, any prior theft charges (for which convicted) can create a much tougher criminal sentence. Class C felonies are next in line for state prison time and can be punished by up to 10 years of imprisonment. Class D Felonies are punishable with up to 5 years of incarceration.

Alabama theft laws define a theft crime as “knowingly obtain[ing] or exert[ing] unauthorized control over the property of another, with intent to deprive the owner of his or her property.”

Whitney headshotThe definition of theft in Alabama also specifically includes:

  • Using some form of deception to take another’s property;
  • Taking possession of stolen property in the custody of a law enforcement agency, and
  • Taking property that has been deposited in a drop box belonging to a charitable organization. (Title 13A 8 2)

Your criminal defense attorney will explain the difference between an Alabama theft felony and an Alabama theft misdemeanor. If the stolen property is a motor vehicle, then an Alabama theft of vehicle is always a felony. Regardless of which law enforcement agency made the arrest, with over 63 years of combined criminal law experience, Whitney Polson and Mark Polson often will be familiar with the officers and their police department.

Mark headshotAlabama theft penalties may also include restitution, which means paying the rightful owner the value of the item taken, if the item cannot be returned in the same condition. Sentencing can also include rehabilitative programs and/or probation. To best defend against Alabama theft penalties, someone facing these serious charges should contact an Alabama theft lawyer who will begin working on their case as soon as possible.

Alabama Theft of Property: Misdemeanor or Felony

Alabama Theft of Property Laws are divided in to two main categories, felony, or misdemeanor. Felony Theft in Alabama is characterized as Theft of Property 1st degree, Theft of Property 2nd degree, and Theft of Property 3rd degree. Theft of Property 4th degree is a misdemeanor.

Theft by deception meaning. Most states have a theft by deception laws. In the simplest terms, the crime entails the use of deceitful means to get money or property from others.

Theft of Property 1st Degree Alabama

Alabama Theft of Property 1st degree is a Class B felony Alabama with a range of penalty from 2 – 20 years and up to a $30,000.00 fine and defined as follows:

  1. The theft of property which exceeds two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) in value, or property of any value taken from the person of another, constitutes theft of property in the first degree.
  2. The theft of a motor vehicle, regardless of its value, constitutes theft of property in the first degree.
  3. (1) The theft of property which involves all the following constitutes theft of property in the first degree:

    The theft is a common plan or scheme by one or more persons; and

    The object of the common plan or scheme is to sell or transfer the property to another person or business that buys the property with knowledge or reasonable belief that the property is stolen; and

    The aggregate value of the property stolen is at least one thousand dollars ($1,000) within a 180-day period.

    If the offense under this subsection involves two or more counties, prosecution may be commenced in one of those counties in which the offense occurred or in which the property was disposed.

Alabama Theft of Property 2nd Degree

Alabama Theft of Property 2nd degree is a Class C felony with a range of penalty from 1 year, 1 day – 10 years and up to a $15,000.00 fine and defined as follows:

  1. The theft of property between one thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500) in value and two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) in value, and which is not taken from the person of another, constitutes theft of property in the second degree.
  2. Theft of property in the second degree is a Class C felony.
  3. The theft of a firearm, rifle, or shotgun, regardless of its value, constitutes theft of property in the second degree.
  4. The theft of any substance controlled by Chapter 2 of Title 20 or any amendments thereto, regardless of value, constitutes theft of property in the second degree.
  5. The theft of any livestock which includes cattle, swine, equine or equidae, or sheep, regardless of their value, constitutes theft of property 2nd degree Alabama.
Theft of Property 3rd Degree Alabama

Alabama Theft of Property 3rd degree is a Class D felony with a range of penalty from 1 year, 1 day – 5 years and up to a $7,500.00 fine and defined as follows:

  1. The theft of property that exceeds five hundred dollars ($500) in value but does not exceed one thousand four hundred and ninety-nine dollars ($1,499) in value, and which is not taken from the person of another, constitutes theft of property in the third degree.
  2. Theft of property in the third degree is a Class D felony.
  3. The theft of a credit card or a debit card, regardless of its value, constitutes theft of property in the third degree.
Theft of Property 4th Degree Alabama

Theft of property 4th Alabama is a Class A Misdemeanor with a range of penalty from 0 days – 365 days and up to a $6,000.00 fine and is defined as follows: The theft of property which does not exceed five hundred dollars ($500) in value, and which is not taken from the person of another constitutes theft of property in the fourth degree.

Other Alabama Theft Laws include Theft of Lost Property, Theft of Services, Theft of Valor, Cargo Theft, Theft of Trademark and Theft of Trade Secrets and Receiving Stolen Property. These additional Alabama theft laws are divided into misdemeanor and felony offenses, similar to theft of property.

When the value of property cannot be ascertained pursuant to the standards set forth above, its value shall be deemed to be an amount not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500).

The amounts involved in thefts committed pursuant to one scheme or course of conduct, whether from the same person or several persons, may be aggregated in determining the grade of the criminal offense. But only one conviction may be had and only one sentence enforced for all thefts included in such aggregate "calculation."

A defendant in Alabama facing prosecution for a theft crime in Alabama may face possible incarceration, fine or both; not to mention collateral consequence of loss of voting, firearm possession and job opportunities. These variables are why you should hire a highly rated Alabama criminal defense lawyer!

Our Alabama criminal defense attorneys try to negotiate dismissal, sentence reductions or amendments (or both) to less serious charges. A major goal for our Alabama theft attorneys is to eliminate the moral turpitude consequence, by perhaps having the charge dismissed or amended.

Our Attorneys in Alabama May Help Get Your Sentence Reduced

Alabama theft lawyers Whitney Polson and Mark Polson have been successful in negotiating reduced charges and arguing for dismissals and pre-trial diversion for some of our clients. Every client and his or her prior history of theft crimes is 100% unique.

Sometimes, our efforts require our client to take classes, get evaluated or participate in community service of some type. These conditions and other requirements may be exchanged as part of settling the theft case.

Our goal is for any “eligible” cases to be dismissed and charges withdrawn. Typically, people who have lost property items are interested in retrieving their valuables. If that option (of returning property) is available to us, our theft defense attorneys in Alabama will negotiate for that outcome as well.

Enhanced Theft Sentencing Factors and Sentencing Guidelines

CourtAlabama has a habitual offender statute that allows enhanced punishment and theft penalties in Alabama for people with a prior criminal history. Alabama also has sentencing guidelines, which are a departure from the traditional statutory provisions.

For example, a Class B Felony cannot be punished with less than two years’ incarceration nor more than 20 years. However, under the sentencing guidelines, there is a mechanism that weighs out different factors, one of which is prior criminal history.

Probation is possible on any sentence of less than 15 years, dependent on sentencing guideline calculations. However, if you have a 4th offense shoplifting and that person deceives the shop owner more than once, these can be difficult cases.

ThinkingOne of the consequences of the sentencing guidelines, however, is that judges and prosecutors lose some discretion. A compelling reason must be asserted for a court to depart from the guidelines, and judges sometimes find that it is easier to follow the recommended guidelines than sentencing outside those guidelines.

Therefore, sentencing in Alabama is complex. This underscores the importance of having an experienced Alabama criminal defense theft attorney to interpret and argue the guideline consequences.

What Is 4th Degree Theft in Alabama?

In Alabama, the Legislature has enacted its theft laws as misdemeanor or felony. But the punishment scheme for repeat offenders can drastically ramp up theft crime penalties in Alabama under the Alabama Criminal Code section 13A-8-5.

  1. The theft of property which does not exceed five hundred dollars ($500) in value, and which is not taken from the person of another constitutes theft of property in the fourth degree.
  2. Theft of property in the fourth degree is a Class A misdemeanor. There is no 5th degree theft in Alabama.
An Alabama Theft Lawyer Knows What to Do to Increase Your Chance of a Great Outcome

When you visit our law office, a partner from Polson and Polson will spend time with you and help you understand Alabama misdemeanor or felony theft laws and some of the possible consequences when charged with theft.

Free callAlways a FREE lawyer consultation. Ask our Alabama criminal defense lawyers about payment plans. Call us 24-7 at (205) 871-8838 for legal assistance.

Acting quickly is highly important for best results. Once someone speaks to our Alabama attorneys, he or she can understand how to mitigate their theft penalties in Alabama. This usually provides a sense of relief because their Alabama attorney is working hard to obtain the best possible outcome in their criminal case.

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