Felony theft is a property crime that involves the unlawful taking of another’s property with the intent to permanently deprive that person of their property. Theft is commonly used as a blanket term to refer to grand theft, grand theft auto, larceny, receiving stolen property, shoplifting merchandise worth more than $500, embezzlement, and even robbery.

To prove theft, the prosecutor must show beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  1. The defendant intentionally took property
  2. The property belonged to someone else
  3. The defendant did not have permission or consent of the true owner
  4. The defendant intended to permanently deprive that person of their property

Types of Felony Theft

There are several different types of theft that are frequently classified as felonies:

  • Grand Theft: Grand theft is the unlawful taking of items or money valued at over $1,000. In comparison, regular theft is the unlawful taking of items or money valued less than $1,000.
  • Grand Theft Auto: Grand theft auto is the unlawful taking of a vehicle without permission.
  • Larceny: Larceny involves stolen property and is often used interchangeably with grand theft, depending on the jurisdiction.
  • Receiving Stolen Property: Receiving stolen property does not require actual stealing or intent to steal. Rather, the defendant merely received property that they knew or should have known was stolen.
  • Embezzlement: Embezzlement involves the taking of funds. It requires a special fiduciary relationship between the victim and defendant in which the victim entrusts the defendant with access to and responsibility for funds. The funds are often work-related and are to be only used for specific purposes.
  • Robbery: Robbery is the taking of another’s belongings by use of force or immediate threat of force. It combines violence with theft. 

Penalties for Felony Theft

Penalties for felony theft vary on the type of theft, the value of the stolen property, the criminal history of the defendant, and more factors. Incarceration can range anywhere from 1 year to 10 years in state or federal prison. 

In addition to a prison sentence, the defendant may be assessed lofty fines and ordered to pay restitution to the victim if the stolen property is not returned.

What Types of Property Constitute Felony Theft?

Felony theft can involve tangible and intangible objects, including:

  • Money
  • Property
  • Services
  • Identities or credit card data
  • Documents or records

Defenses to Felony Theft

The defenses available to someone charged with theft depend upon the unique circumstances surrounding the offense. However, common defenses to felony theft include:

  • Mistake of fact
  • Mistake of law
  • Mistaken identity
  • Consent or authority to possess the item
  • Lack of intent
  • Lack of knowledge

Do I Need a Lawyer If I Have Been Accused of Felony Theft?

Felony theft is a serious criminal offense that carries severe penalties. A criminal defense lawyer can assist you with evaluating the strength of the prosecutor’s case and determining how to proceed with defending against the charges.