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Theft Penalties

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

Arrest The 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.

Theft by deception Alabama charges can be classified as Class B felonies, Class C felonies, Class D felonies, and Class A misdemeanors. The dollar amount involved is one factor. 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 headshot The 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, Whitney Polson and Mark Polson will be familiar with the officers and their police department.

Mark headshot Alabama 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.

Alabama Theft of Property 1st Degree

Alabama Theft of Property 1st degree is a Class B felony 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 of the following constitutes theft of property in the first degree:
    1. The theft is a common plan or scheme by one or more persons; and
    2. 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
    3. The aggregate value of the property stolen is at least one thousand dollars ($1,000) within a 180-day period.
    (2) 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 in the second degree.
Alabama Theft of Property 3rd Degree

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.
Alabama Theft of Property 4th Degree

Alabama Theft of Property 4th degree is a Class A Misdemeanor with a range of penalty from 0 days – 365 days and up to a $6,000.00 fine and defined as follows:

  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.

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 in to misdemeanor and felony offenses, similar to theft of property.

Alabama Theft laws have various definitions that are important in application to the particular case. These include:

  1. DECEPTION occurs when a person knowingly:
    1. Creates or confirms another’s impression which is false and which the defendant does not believe to be true; or
    2. Fails to correct a false impression which the defendant previously has created or confirmed; or
    3. Fails to correct a false impression when the defendant is under a duty to do so; or
    4. Prevents another from acquiring information pertinent to the disposition of the property involved; or
    5. Sells or otherwise transfers or encumbers property, failing to disclose a lien, adverse claim, or other legal impediment to the enjoyment of the property when the defendant is under a duty to do so, whether that impediment is or is not valid, or is not a matter of official record; or
    6. Promises performance which the defendant does not intend to perform or knows will not be performed. Failure to perform, standing alone however, is not proof that the defendant did not intend to perform.
  2. The term “deception” does not, however, include falsity as to matters having no pecuniary significance, or puffing by statements unlikely to deceive ordinary persons. “Puffing” means an exaggerated commendation of wares or services.

  3. To “Deprive” means:
    1. To withhold property or cause it to be withheld from a person permanently or for such period or under such circumstances that all or a portion of its use or benefit would be lost to him or her; or
    2. To dispose of the property so as to make it unlikely that the owner would recover it; or
    3. To retain the property with intent to restore it to the owner only if the owner purchases or leases it back, or pays a reward or other compensation for its return; or
    4. To sell, give, pledge, or otherwise transfer any interest in the property; or
    5. To subject the property to the claim of a person other than the owner.
  4. FIFTH WHEEL. Coupling between a trailer and a vehicle used for towing.
  5. FINANCIAL INSTITUTION. A bank, insurance company, credit union, safety deposit company, savings and loan association, investment trust, or other organization held out to the public as a place of deposit of funds or medium of savings or collective investment.
  6. FIREARM. A weapon from which a shot is discharged by gunpowder.
  7. GOVERNMENT. The United States, any state or any county, municipality, or other political unit within territory belonging to the United States, or any department, agency, or subdivision of any of the foregoing, or any corporation or other association carrying out the functions of government, or any corporation or agency formed pursuant to interstate compact or international treaty.

    As used in this definition “state” includes any state, territory, or possession of the United States, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
  8. OBTAINS. Such term means:
    1. In relation to property, to bring about a transfer or purported transfer of a legally recognized interest in the property, whether to the obtainer or another; or
    2. In relation to labor or service, to secure performance thereof.
  9. OBTAINS OR EXERTS CONTROL or OBTAINS OR EXERTS UNAUTHORIZED CONTROL over property includes, but is not necessarily limited to, the taking, carrying away, or the sale, conveyance, or transfer of title to, or interest in, or possession of, property, and includes but is not necessarily limited to conduct heretofore defined or known as common law larceny by trespassory taking, common law larceny by trick, larceny by conversion, embezzlement, extortion, or obtaining property by false pretenses.
  10. OWNER. A person, other than the defendant, who has possession of or any other interest in the property involved, even though that interest or possession is unlawful, and without whose consent the defendant has no authority to exert control over the property.

    A secured party, as defined in Section 7-9A-102(a)(72), is not an owner in relation to a defendant who is a debtor, as defined in Section 7-9A-102(a)(28), in respect of property in which the secured party has a security interest, as defined in Section 7-1-201(37).
  11. PROPELLED VEHICLE. Any propelled device in, upon, or by which any person or property is transported on land, water, or in the air, and such term includes motor vehicles, motorcycles, motorboats, aircraft, and any vessel propelled by machinery, whether or not that machinery is the principal source of propulsion.
  12. PROPERTY. Any money, tangible or intangible personal property, property (whether real or personal) the location of which can be changed (including things growing on, affixed to, or found in land and documents, although the rights represented hereby have no physical location), contract right, chose-in-action, interest in a claim to wealth, credit, or any other article or thing of value of any kind.

    Commodities of a public utility nature, such as gas, electricity, steam, and water, constitute property, but the supplying of such a commodity to premises from an outside source by means of wires, pipes, conduits, or other equipment shall be deemed a rendition of a service rather than a sale or delivery of property.
  13. RECEIVING. Such term includes, but is not limited to, acquiring possession, control, or title and taking a security interest in the property.
  14. STOLEN. Obtained by theft, theft by appropriating lost property, robbery, or extortion.
  15. THREAT. A menace, however communicated, to:
    1. Cause physical harm to the person threatened or to any other person; or
    2. Cause damage to property; or
    3. Subject the person threatened or any other person to physical confinement or restraint; or
    4. Engage in other conduct constituting a crime; or
    5. Accuse any person of a crime or cause criminal charges to be instituted against any person; or
    6. Expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule; or
    7. Reveal any information sought to be concealed by the person threatened; or
    8. Testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another’s legal claim or defense; or
    9. Take action as an official against anyone or anything, or withhold official action, or cause such action or withholding; or
    10. Bring about or continue a strike, boycott, or other similar collective action to obtain property which is not demanded or received for the benefit of the group which the actor purports to represent; or
    11. Do any other act which would not in itself substantially benefit the actor but which is calculated to harm substantially another person with respect to his or her health, safety, business, calling, career, financial condition, reputation, or personal relationships.
  16. VALUE. The market value of the property at the time and place of the criminal act.

    Whether or not they have been issued or delivered, certain written instruments, not including those having a readily ascertainable market value such as some public and corporate bonds and securities shall be evaluated as follows:
    1. The value of an instrument constituting an evidence of debt, such as a check, draft, or promissory note, shall be deemed the amount due or collectible thereon or thereby, that figure ordinarily being the face amount of the indebtedness less any portion thereof which has been satisfied.
    2. The value of any other instrument that creates, releases, discharges, or otherwise affects any valuable legal right, privilege, or obligation shall be deemed the greatest amount of economic loss which the owner of the instrument might reasonably suffer by virtue of the loss of the instrument.

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).

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 offense; provided, that only one conviction may be had and only one sentence enforced for all thefts included in such aggregate.

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, which requires their client to take classes and complete community service, among other requirements that may be set forth, in exchange for the case being dismissed and withdrawn. Typically, people are interested in retrieving their property so, if the option of returning property is available, attorneys will negotiate for that outcome as well.

Enhanced Theft Sentencing Factors and Sentencing Guidelines

Court Alabama 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.

Thinking One 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, 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.
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 call Always 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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Whitney Polson is a no-nonsense attorney who delivered exactly what he said he would on my case...thank you so much sir...I would definitely recommend anyone facing a DUI to retain this man. D.B.
If you are looking for an attorney I must recommend Mark Polson of Polson & Polson. My case was successfully moved from a February to a December court date and was dismissed. I am extremely please with the way this firm handled the case and was able to secure the dismissal. Thank you again to Polson & Polson for your professionalism and knowledge that we needed for this situation. Best Regards to all. Julie C.
Wow! I never could have hoped for our lawyer to work as fast as he did but Whitney was lightning fast! Very attentive to the details, never left me hanging along the journey-I used online reviews in choosing him and now I want to pass that on-if you need a lawyer (ours was a traffic court case with complications), I HIGHLY recommend this firm! Claire B.