Legally, theft is a tricky term. Theft of property, for example, is different from identity theft. What about larceny – where does that fit into the theft scenario? The law defines theft as taking something without permission with the intention of permanently depriving another person of it. Not all theft crimes are equal, however.
Theft vs. Larceny
There is a fine line between these two legal terms. Theft is an umbrella phrase that covers many different forms of stealing. Larceny is more specific. It involves property that one can carry. For instance, stealing a person’s identity is not larceny, but walking away with their television falls into that category.
Larceny comes in degrees – petty and grand. In Minnesota, anything over 500 dollars is considered grand larceny. However, the right theft attorney in St. Paul could argue that stealing of an item valued between 500 to 1,000 dollars might fall into the petty theft category, as well.
Larceny penalties in Minnesota include both fines and jail time. For thefts under 500 dollars, the maximum penalty is 90 days in jail and no more than 1,000 dollars in fines. Between 500 to 1,000 dollars, the penalties include one year in jail and 3,000 dollars in fines. The higher the theft, the higher the penalty – when the item taken is worth more than 35,000 dollars, for example, the punishment is up to 20 years in prison and 100,000 dollars in fines.
Identity theft involves pretending to be someone else to access resources such as credit or their credentials. In Minnesota, identity theft laws cover phishing, as well. Phishing is the use of fraudulent emails to fool recipients into giving out personal details. A person can be guilty of phishing even if the scheme doesn’t work.
As with larceny, the penalties depend on the amount of the loss and expenses. A theft that costs the victim 250 dollars or less comes with a penalty of 90 days in jail and a 1,000 dollar fine. When the crime adds up to more than 35,000 dollars in debt, one can expect to spend 20 years in prison and pay up to 100,000 in fines.
Given the broad definition of theft, it is wise to get advice from a theft attorney for any charge. The right lawyer will understand what category each case fits into and will know when negotiating the terms to a lesser charge is the better approach.