Theft is one of the most common criminal offenses in Alabama. Theft can include anything from shoplifting a small item worth a few dollars to stealing a car. The penalties for theft depend on the situation, including the value of the property taken and the extent of the theft. If you or a loved one is facing criminal theft charges, contact an experienced Alabama criminal defense attorney.
Under the Alabama criminal code, theft charges are divided by degree, from first-degree theft with the highest penalties to fourth-degree theft with the lowest.
- First degree theft
- Second degree theft
- Third degree theft
- Fourth degree theft
Theft in Alabama occurs when a person “knowingly obtains or exerts unauthorized control over the property of another, with intent to deprive the owner of his or her property.” This includes obtaining property through making a false representation, known as theft by deception.
Theft in the First Degree
First-degree theft can be committed in 3 possible ways:
- Theft of property valued at more than $2,500;
- Motor vehicle theft; or
- A theft of involving a common plan or scheme where the object of the theft is to sell the stolen property to another person who knows or has a reasonable belief that the property is stolen, where the total value of stolen property is at least $1,000 within a 180-day-period.
Any motor vehicle theft is considered first-degree theft, no matter how much the car is worth. Someone can face the same criminal charges for stealing a brand new luxury car as someone who steals an old, beat-up car worth a couple hundred dollars.
Theft in the first degree in Alabama is a Class B felony. The penalties for a conviction of a Class B felony in Alabama include from 2 years to 20 years in prison. If a deadly weapon was used during the crime, the minimum sentence is 10 years in prison.
Theft in the Second Degree
Under Alabama Code Section 13A-8-4, second-degree theft involves:
- Theft of property valued at between $1,500 and $2,500
- Theft of a firearm, rifle, or shotgun
- Theft of any livestock
- Theft of any controlled substance
Theft of a controlled substance includes both legal and illegal drugs. Nevertheless, theft of controlled substances often involvesys theft of prescription drugs that are prescribed to another person.
Second-degree theft in Alabama is a Class C felony. The penalties for a conviction of a Class C felony include a minimum of 1 year and 1 day in prison, up to a maximum of 10 years.
Theft in the Third Degree
Under Alabama Code Section 13A-8-4, third degree theft involves the theft of any property that exceeds $500 in value but less than $1,500.
Theft of a credit card or debit card is also 3rd degree theft. It does not matter if the credit card is used or the credit limit of the credit card. Any credit or debit card theft is considered third-degree theft.
Third degree theft is a Class D felony. A conviction for a class D felony could result in a a prison sentence of up to 5 years in the state peneteniary. Moreover, a felony conviction, even without prison time, will still result in a damaging criminal record that may make it harder to get a job and limit your rights.
Theft in the Fourth Degree
Under Alabama Code Section 13A-8-5, fourth-degree theft involves theft of property which does not exceed $500 in value. Fourth-degree theft is a Class A misdemeanor in Alabama, with penalties including up to one year in prison.
Experienced Northern Alabama Criminal Defense Attorney
John Allen understands the risks and penalties involved with a criminal conviction for theft. Experienced criminal defense attorney John Allen will vigorously defend you from charges ranging from felony theft to misdemeanor theft. An arrest does not mean you have to be convicted. An experienced criminal defense attorney like John Allen knows how to challenge the state's evidence and fight for his clients. Contact Huntsville defense lawyer John Allen today.