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Tennessee Theft of Property Laws and Penalties

Posted January 5, 2014Lee Martin - Felony Cases, Misdemeanor Cases, Shoplifting

One of the first lessons I learned as a child was that it was wrong to take something that did not belong to me.  Back then, the punishment would be either a strong talking to or a whipping.  Those days are long gone.  As an adult, you will be punished under Tennessee’s criminal code for theft of property and these laws are taken very seriously.  If you have been charged with theft of property in Tennessee, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows the “ins and outs” of Tennessee’s theft laws.  Tennessee does not have a larceny statute like most states.  Tennessee has codified all theft and related offenses under its theft of property statute.  In short, theft constitutes any act that deprives another of his or her property rights.  It could be either be just straight up stealing of cell phone from a store or using another person’s gas card without their permission.  Just use your common sense.  If the item did not belong to you and you took it, then it is theft.

If the charged offense is under $500.00, then the accused will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor which could carry up to 11 months and 29 days in jail along with a fine up to $2500.00.  Any amount over $500.00 will charged as a felony offense and the amount of jail time increases as the charged amount increases.  For example, see below:

An amount over $500.00 is a Class E felony which could carry 1 to 6 years in jail.

An amount over $1000.00 is a Class D felony which could carry 2 to 12 years in jail.

An amount over $10,000.00 is a Class C felony which could carry 3 to 15 years in jail.

An amount over $60,000.00 is a Class B felony which could carry 8 to 30 years in jail.

Theft charges are extremely serious because the accused could serve jail time as well as have a permanent criminal conviction of their record.  Needless to say, it would be extremely difficult to get a job with a theft conviction on your record and a conviction should be avoided at all costs.  In fact, many corporate employers and the federal government refuse to hire anyone with a theft conviction on their permanent record.  These polices are effective regardless of the age of the conviction.  I recently had a friend refused employment with a major bank because of a prior misdemeanor shoplifting charge.  Again, did not take theft charges lightly.

Depending upon the facts of your case and your prior criminal history, it may be possible to have a Tennessee theft charged either dismissed or diverted through a pretrial diversion program.  Due to the stakes in a theft charge, it is important to hire an experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorney early in the process.  A successful theft defense would result in your charges being dismissed and your record expunged of the entire incident.

If you need help with a Tennessee Theft of Property offense, give me a call at 615-345-1988.

-Lee Martin