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Theft: A Crime Defined by Monetary Value

Jeff Cole
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Partner at Zimmer, Duncan & Cole

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In the criminal justice arena, most crimes are judged by the action committed. If you were involved in a particularly heinous act, your charges would be determined by what that particular act was.

In cases of theft, however, the crime and charges are determined by the value of what you took on top of the taking of the item(s), itself. In South Dakota, if you took property from someone else intending to permanently deprive them of that property, what you did will be considered theft. Let’s look at how your crime will be further classified based on the monetary value or classification of what you stole.

Petty Theft vs. Grand Theft: What Is the Difference?

Your charges will first be divided into categories known as petty or grand theft. The division is, again, primarily based on monetary value: petty theft involves items that are valued at under $1,000, while grand theft is a theft of items valued at $1,000 and up. Grand theft also involves stealing guns or certain species of livestock of any monetary value.

Another big difference between petty theft and grand theft is how each crime is charged. Petty theft is considered a misdemeanor charge, while grand theft is a felony charge. More specific breakdowns of criminal charges are below:

  • Petty theft in the second degree – Theft of property valued at or below $400 and is considered to be a Class 2 misdemeanor.
  • Petty theft in the first degree – Theft of property valued above $400 and below $1,000 and is considered to be a Class 1 misdemeanor.
  • Grand theft – Theft of property valued at or above $1,000, or theft of a firearm or certain livestock and is considered to be a Class 4 felony.
  • Aggravated grand theft – Theft of property valued above $100,000 and is considered to be a Class 3 felony.

As you can see, charges quickly escalate as the value of the goods or services stolen increases. If you have been accused of or charged with any kind of theft, it is important to act quickly to form your legal defense. To speak with our Sioux Falls criminal defense attorneys today, call our office or fill out our online contact form to be connected with our firm.


Category: Criminal Defense


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