Theft Under Ohio Law
Like most states, Ohio defines “theft” as taking or controlling someone else’s property or services without their consent. It can also mean obtaining someone else’s property by intimidating, deceiving, or threatening them. These laws cover both property and services, with services including labor, entertainment, transportation, utilities, and more. Depending on your jurisdiction, you’ll also see theft referred to as “larceny.”
Classification of Theft Charges
The degree of theft is based on the value of the property or service that was taken as well as considerations for who the victim was. Charges will fall into one of four categories: petty theft, felony theft, grand theft, or aggravated theft.
- Petty theft is categorized as a first-degree misdemeanor and covers property or services valued under $1,000.
- A felony theft charge is considered a fifth-degree felony and covers thefts between $1,000 and $7,000, items like credit cards that have no fixed value, or thefts of under $1,000 if the victim is part of a protected class such as an active duty service member or disabled adult.
- Grand theft is a fourth-degree felony and applies to stolen property or services valued between $7,500 and $150,000, thefts between $1,000 and $7,500 taken from a protected class, or stolen motor vehicles or dangerous drugs.
- Aggravated theft covers first, second, and third-degree felonies for values over $150,000, and thefts of specific items like firearms, service dogs, or police dogs or horses.
Possible Penalties for Theft Charges
The potential penalties increase as you move from petty theft to aggravated theft. At the lower end you could be facing a fine of $1,000 or up to 180 days in jail. Fifth-degree felonies can carry jail times of six months to a year and fines up to $7,500, while second-degree felonies can see up to two to eight years of jail time and up to a $15,000 fine. Additionally, the owner of the property may ask for civil penalties such as reimbursement of the value of the stolen property or service or other damages. It’s important to note these are all ranges, and a good criminal defense attorney will work hard to fight for the most lenient sentence based on the evidence.
Common Theft Defenses
After speaking with your attorney, they can then begin to lay out your possible defenses. One common defense is lack of intent, and it’s up to the prosecution to prove you knew you were stealing and intended to steal. Your lawyer may also attempt to reach a plea agreement in lieu of going to court that may require entering a theft diversion program or substance abuse treatment if it was found that a drug or alcohol problem contributed to the crime. If you’re charged with Receiving Stolen Property (RSP), your attorney may attempt to prove you had no knowledge that the property you obtained was stolen.