Theft is defined as a wrongful assumption of the property of another individual. The perpetrator wrongfully assumes the individual’s property by taking it and carrying it away.

The perpetrator does this with the intent to permanently deprive the individual of their property. The type of crime the perpetrator is charged with will depend upon the specific facts of the case.

For example, embezzlement occurs when a perpetrator fraudulently converts another individual’s property for their own use. An individual who is accused of taking property or money under false pretenses will not be charged with embezzlement, but will be charged with false pretenses. Both of these charges are types of theft charges.

Theft may also be classified as a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the facts. The level of punishment a defendant may face depends upon the severity of the specific theft charges.

For example, if an individual steals a low value item from a retail store, it will result in less severe charges and penalties than if the individual stole a vehicle. When an individual uses a weapon or force while perpetrating a theft, it will be classified as a more serious crime.

The possible penalties and available defenses an individual charged with theft may face vary depending on the laws of the state as well as the specific theft crime which the individual was charged with. It is also important to be aware that many states use the term larceny instead of the term theft.

What Are Some Examples of Theft Crimes?

As previously noted, there are numerous different types of theft charges which range from minor offenses to serious offenses. Examples of minor theft crimes include stealing items of lower value, such as clothes or jewelry.

This type of theft is often classified as petty theft or misdemeanor theft. Although the maximum amount may vary, most states do not set the value of the property higher than $1,000.

In contrast, examples of more serious theft include vehicle theft crimes, large amounts of money, or high value jewelry. Each state will classify offenses based upon:

  • The type of theft;
  • The value of the property that was stolen; and
  • Whether there were any aggravating factors present.

Stealing property of a high value is often referred to as grand theft or grand larceny.

How Does the Law Define Property?

Property law can be broadly defined under criminal laws. This is due to the fact that property may include immovable and movable items.

Examples of property which may be unlawfully taken may include, but is not limited to:

  • Real property, or immovable items, including land and things attached to that land;
  • Tangible or moveable property, including:
    • cars;
    • computers;
    • jewelry;
    • cash;
    • other items;
  • Documents, including certificates, bonds, tiles, etc.;
  • Information which may include an individual’s identifying data, a company’s trade secrets, etc; and
  • Personal services, including service of food at a restaurant, also commonly known as dine and dash.

As previously noted, theft involves the taking of another individual’s property without their consent and with the intent to deprive the individual of their rightful property. Pursuant to this definition of theft, property may be considered anything an individual owns.

Can Sentences for Theft Crimes Be Increased or Decreased?

The sentence for conviction of a theft crime may be increased or decreased based upon a variety of factors, including whether the crime is considered aggravated theft. Aggravated theft refers to theft of property which includes any of the following aggravating factors:

  • The use of a weapon, especially a deadly weapon;
  • The use of threats or intimidation to perpetrate the crime;
  • Theft that is related to organized crime or gang activity;
  • Theft of high-value property; and
  • Theft of police or government property.

If a theft crime is an aggravated theft, the defendant’s sentence may include increased fines as well as prison time. In addition, individuals who are found guilty of aggravated theft will typically have a permanent felony record of the crime.

A felony conviction can affect an individual’s legal rights, both temporarily and permanently. Examples of affected rights include:

  • Losing the right to vote;
  • Not being able to own a firearm; and
  • Losing the ability to serve on a jury.

What is the Definition of Petty Theft?

Petty theft is a theft crime in which the property stolen is of a lower value. The majority of states classify theft crimes as either petty theft or grand theft.

It is important to note, however, that not all states use these classifications. Because of this, it is important for an individual to be aware of their specific state laws if they are charged with a theft crime.

In general, under the criminal laws of most states, petty theft is defined as taking another individual’s property with the intent to steal and/or deprive the property owner of using their property.

State laws will set a value threshold for what thefts are considered petty theft. In California, for example, the value of the property must be $950 or less to be classified as a petty theft.

If the theft exceeds that amount, it will be classified as grand theft. Petty theft typically occurs in a shoplifting or similar situation.

What is Petit Larceny in Nevada?

In Nevada, petty theft is also known as petit larceny. Petit larceny is defined as the intentional taking away another individual’s property without their consent. To be petit larceny, the property value must be less than $650.

What Will Nevada Prosecutors Have to Prove to Convict Me of Petit Larceny?

In Nevada, for the prosecution to convict a defendant of petit larceny, they must show that the defendant:

  • Took the personal property of another individual or their real property that has been converted into personal property by being removed from real property;
  • Had the intent to permanently deprive the individual of their property; and
  • Had no consent from the owner to take and/or carry away the property.
  • As previously noted, that property must be less than $650.

Is Petit Larceny a Felony or Misdemeanor in Nevada?

Petit larceny is classified as a misdemeanor crime. The punishment for a misdemeanor may include:

  • Six months in jail;
  • $1,000 fine; and
  • Restitution.

Are There Any Defenses That I Can Use to Fight This Charge?

If an individual is charged with theft, there may be some defenses available. The defenses which are available will depend upon the circumstances of their case, which may include:

  • Mistake;
  • The defendant can show true ownership of the property; and
  • Authorization to use the property.

These defenses may not always be available and will depend on the facts of the individual’s case. If there are mitigating factors present, they may, in some cases, lessen the severity of an individual punishment for the crime.

Examples of mitigating factors may include:

  • A lack of criminal history;
  • Remorse;
  • Age; and
  • Cooperation.

There are also theft defenses which may be available to an individual who is facing a petit larceny charge, depending upon the circumstances of the case. For example, an individual may use the lack of intent defenses.

For an offense to be petit larceny, a defendant must possess the specific intent to permanently deprive the owner of their property. Therefore, a defendant would not have committed petit larceny if they did not actually intend to deprive the owner of the property.

Should I Contact an Attorney?

It is important to consult with a Nevada criminal attorney if you have been charged with petit larceny. It is important to contact your attorney as soon as you can to provide time to create a defense strategy. Your attorney will advise you of the laws in Nevada, what defenses may be available to you, and represent you when you are required to appear in court.