Theft Crimes

We have a proven track record of success in handling over 15,000 criminal cases and are consistently awarded as one of Ohio’s top criminal defense firms. We are highly experienced theft crimes lawyers in Columbus, OH and all of central Ohio. Experience matters when dealing with these cases, which prosecutors and judges handle differently on a case-by-case basis. We know what to expect and what to do to get the best result possible.

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Columbus Theft Defense Attorney Near You

Columbus Theft Attorney Near YouTheft offenses are considered crimes of moral turpitude, which means the conduct is dishonest in nature and shows a lack of good morals. Crimes of moral turpitude could have severe repercussions, and negatively affect immigration status, educational opportunities, and employment prospects. Theft is the crime in which someone takes property or services from the owner without permission, by deception, or through other means as outlined in Ohio Revised Code § 2913.02.

If you are convicted of a theft offense in Columbus, Ohio, you could face additional consequences, including jail time, fines, probation, embarrassment, and possible civil penalties. People may think you’re dishonest and lacking in good morals. This crime has long-lasting consequences and can change the trajectory of your life.

A few of the most common Columbus theft and property offenses are:

However, a charge does not equate to a conviction, and you don’t have to go up against the court system on your own. Instead, a Columbus theft defense attorney with Joslyn Law Firm will go to bat for you. We have represented over 20,000 criminal defense cases and have earned over 50 years of collective legal experience.

Our criminal defense lawyers near you can explore all possible avenues of defense. Some of our previous cases have resulted in a reduction of charges and even dismissal and expungement of charges. You have the right to an attorney, and we will give you the respect and counsel you deserve. Our theft defense lawyers near you go above and beyond for our clients, and our team is devoted to protecting your rights. Allow us to put all our knowledge and resources to work for you and craft a defense strategy that seeks a favorable outcome for your case.

Columbus Theft Attorney Near You – Fighting the Results You Need

The theft defense lawyers and criminal defense team at Joslyn Law Firm fights for clients of all backgrounds—from professional athletes to celebrities to lawyers. We understand there’s a lot at stake in a criminal case, no matter who you are, so we want to secure the best outcome possible.

Once we review your case, we can begin to strategize a defense. For theft cases, your attorney may base it on a lack of evidence or entrapment. Sometimes, we can incorporate more than one defense strategy to get your charges reduced or dropped—it all depends on the circumstances of your case.

This is just one of the many results that have helped us receive various achievements and accolades, including:

  • Top American Lawyers
  • Top Attorney Criminal Defense by Avvo Clients’ Choice Superb
  • Top 100 National Trial Lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers Association
  • Rising Star by Super Lawyers

These awards are not just for show. We are passionate about defending Ohioans from all types of charges, no matter how daunting the case may seem. Our founder, Brian Joslyn, knows what it feels like to be behind bars, and he has dedicated his life to protecting people facing criminal charges. We approach each case with professionalism and empathy, and we commit ourselves to your case.

If you have been charged with a theft violation in Columbus, Ohio, and the surrounding areas of Dublin, Westerville, Reynoldsburg, or Lancaster, contact the Columbus  Joslyn Law Firm. Brian Joslyn of the Joslyn Law Firm is experienced in defending theft crimes and will make every effort to help you avoid serious penalties and punishments. Call Joslyn Law Firm at (614) 444-1900.

Joslyn Law Firm Theft Lawyers

Ohio Theft Crimes Information Center

Overview of Theft Violations and Definitions in the Ohio Revised Code

Petty TheftOhio Revised Code § 2913.02: Someone can be charged with this offense if they knowingly obtain or exert control over property or services that is less than $500:

  • Without the owner’s consent (or another authorized person)
  • Beyond the scope of an owner’s consent
  • By deception
  • By threat, or
  • By intimidation.

This offense is a misdemeanor of the first degree.

Theft– Ohio Revised Code § 2913.02: Someone can be charged with this offense if they knowingly obtain or exert control over property or services that is $500 or more or less than $5,000:

  • Without the owner’s consent (or another authorized person),
  • Beyond the scope of an owner’s consent,
  • By deception,
  • By threat, or
  • By intimidation.

A person can also be charged with this offense according to Ohio Revised Code § 2913.71, regardless of the property’s value, if the item stolen was:

  • A credit card,
  • Check or another negotiable instrument,
  • Motor vehicle identification license plates or stickers,
  • A blank form of a motor vehicle certificate of title, or
  • A blank form of any kind of identification license.

This offense is a felony of the fifth degree.

Grand Theft– Ohio Revised Code § 2913.02: Someone can be charged with this offense if they knowingly obtain or exert control over property or services that is $5,000 or more or less than $100,000:

  • Without the owner’s consent (or another authorized person)
  • Beyond the scope of an owner’s consent
  • By deception
  • By threat, or
  • By intimidation

Grand theft is typically a felony of the fourth degree.

If the property stolen was a firearm or a motor vehicle, regardless of the value of the item, the offense is also considered grand theft. However, grand theft of a firearm is a felony of the third degree and grand theft of a motor vehicle is a felony of the fourth degree.

Aggravated TheftOhio Revised Code § 2913.02: Someone can be charged with this offense if they knowingly obtain or exert control over property or services that is $100,000 or more:

  • Without the owner’s consent (or another authorized person)
  • Beyond the scope of an owner’s consent
  • By deception
  • By threat, or
  • By intimidation.

This offense is a felony of the third, second or first degree, depending on the amount of the property taken.

Unauthorized Use of a VehicleOhio Revised Code § 2913.03: If a person knowingly uses a motor vehicle, aircraft, motorcycle, motorboat, or another motor-propelled vehicle without the owner’s consent, they can be charged with this offense.

Unauthorized use of a vehicle can be a misdemeanor of the first degree, felony of the fifth degree, felony of the fourth degree, felony of the third degree, or felony of the second degree, depending on the value of the item and whether the victim was an elderly person.

Receiving Stolen PropertyOhio Revised Code § 2913.51: A person can be charged with this offense if they receive, retain or dispose of property of another knowing or having reason to know it was obtained through theft.

This offense is punishable as a misdemeanor of the first degree, felony of the fifth degree, felony of the fourth degree, or felony of the third degree, depending on the type of property and the value of the property.

Detention and Arrest of Shoplifters in Ohio

Theft Defense Lawyer OhioOhio does not have specific laws prohibiting shoplifting or larceny but only has one general law prohibiting theft. However, if a person is suspected of shoplifting, they can be detained by a merchant or employee who suspects they were shoplifting before law enforcement arrives.

According to Ohio Revised Code § 2935.041, a store merchant, employee, or agent of a merchant, including hired security guards or police officers, can detain someone they believe has committed a theft offense. To detain an alleged offender, they must follow certain requirements.

  • They must have probable cause the items were unlawfully taken. Probable cause is commonly defined as a reasonable and articulable suspicion the alleged offender may have committed the theft offense.
  • The detention must be within the store or in the immediate vicinity of the store. Although immediate vicinity is somewhat vague and a subjective term, a person cannot follow the alleged offender far away and detain them somewhere else.
  • The detention must be made without a search or taking property rightfully belonging to the alleged offender. A search includes the body of the alleged offender and/or the immediate area surrounding the alleged offender where they could keep a weapon or hide evidence, including a purse or shopping bags.
  • The detention must be without using undue restraint. Undue restraint is usually subjective and depends on the facts of the situation.
  • The detention must be in a reasonable manner to cause an arrest by a police officer, to obtain a warrant of arrest, or to recover the items unlawfully taken. A reasonable manner is also a subjective term and depends on the facts of the situation.
  • The detention must be for a reasonable length of time. A reasonable length of time is usually subjective and depends on the facts of the situation, but several hours is generally not a reasonable length of time.

If you have been detained for an alleged shoplifting offense, your Columbus theft attorney near you at the Joslyn Law Firm will be able to help you identify whether you were detained with undue restraint, in an unreasonable manner, or for an unreasonable length of time.

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Common Defenses in Columbus Theft Defense Cases

The defense we apply to your case relies on what happened and the type and severity of the charges you face. Still, the defense strategies our Columbus criminal defense attorneys use in theft cases tend to overlap. They may include the following:

  • Entrapment: Here, law enforcement interferes and harasses, coerces, or threatens the defendant to commit a crime.
  • Lack of probable cause: The police didn’t have enough of a reason to arrest the defendant for theft. For example, maybe the defendant was in a store for 30 minutes and didn’t buy anything, making the officer think they stole something.
  • Mistaken identity: Someone else committed the crime.
  • Act of duress or necessity: The defendant had no choice but to commit theft. Perhaps someone was threatening to harm them or their family if they didn’t do what they were told.
  • Property not stolen: The defendant didn’t actually steal the property. They could just borrow it, or the situation was misrepresented.
  • Lack of evidence: There’s not enough evidence that suggests the defendant committed the crime. Maybe there weren’t any witnesses, or the defendant has an alibi.

Note that your theft defense lawyer near you in Columbus can apply several strategies to your case.

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Evidence in Columbus Theft Defense Cases

Fighting Theft Charges in OhioThe prosecution must prove you are guilty of committing the theft crime beyond a reasonable to convict you by presenting viable evidence. During a trial, they may:

  • Examine witnesses
  • Discuss your criminal history
  • Show photos of the stolen object and the crime scene
  • Play video footage of the alleged incident, including police body cam
  • Play audio recordings
  • Display text messages or emails between you and others involved in the alleged crime
  • Call expert witnesses to the stand
  • Present crime lab results and DNA evidence

A Columbus theft defense attorney near you can assess and counter the prosecution’s claims against you by cross-examining witnesses, interviewing our own, and pointing out gaps in their version of events. That way, we can strive to get your theft charges reduced or dropped.

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Penalties for Ohio Theft and Property Charges

A misdemeanor or felony theft conviction in Ohio can incur hefty fines and jail or prison time, in addition to other penalties, including civil penalties, driver’s license suspensions, and/or restitution. Certain penalties may also vary if the offense is committed against an elderly person, the type of offense, and the amount of property stolen. The Ohio standard sentencing guidelines for theft crimes are below.

  • Misdemeanor of the First Degree – This degree of a misdemeanor can result in a jail sentence of up to 180 days, and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Felony of the Fifth Degree – Penalties for this degree of a felony can include imprisonment from six months to one year and/or fines up to $2,500.
  • Felony of the Fourth Degree – This degree of a felony can lead to imprisonment from six to 18 months, and/or fines not exceeding $5,000.
  • Felony of the Third Degree – A conviction for offenses in this degree can incur prison sentences from one to five years and/or fines not more than $10,000.
  • Felony of the Second Degree – These felony offenses can result in prison sentences from two to eight years, and/or fines not to exceed $15,000.
  • Felony of the First Degree – Felony offenses in this degree can lead to imprisonment from three to 10 years and/or fines up to $20,000.

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Possible Civil Penalties for Ohio Theft Offenses

A merchant or property owner can recover damages from any person who commits a theft offense against them according to Ohio Revised Code § 2307.61.

If a merchant wants to pursue civil penalties, they are required to send a demand letter to the alleged offender demanding payment for the value of the items taken plus any other losses sustained. Other losses can include the costs of apprehending the alleged offender and any other damage to the store.

If the alleged offender does not pay the merchant within 30 days, the merchant is entitled to civilly sue the alleged offender for damages. If a merchant sues an alleged offender, they can also recover court costs and legal fees.

Although this option is available to merchants, many times, they will send a demand letter and make other threats but will not ultimately civilly sue an alleged offender. However, it is still important to hire an attorney to present your best defense and avoid this type of penalty.

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Resources in Columbus for Theft and Property Violations

Kleptomaniacs and Shoplifters Anonymous – Kleptomaniacs and Shoplifters Anonymous, or CASA, is a national organization providing a community for those suffering from addictive-compulsive behavior and methods to seek help for their addictions.

National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP) – The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, is a national non-profit organization that attempts to prevent shoplifting by researching shoplifters, discussing shoplifting prevention methods with government officials, and creating shoplifting prevention programs.

Columbus, Ohio Division of Police – The Columbus police department website provides resources on crime information, crime prevention, services provided by the police department, and various forms and publications. The Columbus Police Department (CPD) is located at:

120 Marconi Boulevard
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Phone: (614) 645-4610

Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) – Ohio supports this organization. If you or a loved one was a victim of a crime, you can apply for financial help and find out about the programs they offer for victims assistance, including the Internal Terrorism Expense Reimbursement Program (ITVERP). Those who suffered property loss can qualify.

Ohio Crime Victims Compensation Program – Innocent victims can receive up to $50,000 in financial compensation for expenses they lost from a property crime. Once you file a claim, the Ohio Attorney General and the Court of Claims will evaluate and investigate the incident and reach a decision.

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Notable Ohio Theft Cases

State vs. Edmonson

From September 1990 to October 1994, Michelle Edmonson received upwards of $9,000 of financial help from food stamps and the benefits from Ohio Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) that amounted to over $13,000. During this four-year time frame, Edmonton never disclosed her active employment status to the Montgomery County Department of Human Services (MCDHS). As such, employment status plays an important role in the amount of money applicants obtain.

The MCDGS started investigating Edmonson in 1994 to determine if she was working from 1990 to 1994. She admitted she was receiving benefits while working and knew she should have been reporting her employment status. A grand jury indicted Edmonson on theft by deception on two counts, which prompted a fifth-degree felony grand theft charge. She was found guilty on counts.

State vs. Allen

In December 2018, Clint Allen stole a semi-automatic rifle from his father and stepmother’s house. He threatened to kill his stepmother and tried to steal one of their vehicles. However, he was able to steal a second vehicle and flee their home. This began a high-speed police chase that involved crashes and another case of vehicle theft. When he crashed the final time, Allen was arrested while he tried to run from the scene.

He was charged with two counts of grand auto theft, with specifications of aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, and felonious assault, failure to comply with officer’s orders, improper handling of a firearm in a vehicle, and a hit and run.

At first, Allen pled not guilty and then changed his plea to no contest. The prosecution decided to throw out the aggravated burglary charge with specifications of felonious assault and mishandling a firearm in a motor vehicle in return. Allen was found guilty and received an aggregated sentence of 15 years.

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News Stories on Theft Cases in Ohio

Police: Investigation Uncovers Theft Ring Accused of Stealing Estimated 13,000 Converters Thefts in Central Ohio

After a three-month investigation, the Groveport Police Department uncovered an organized theft ring out of southern Columbus that stole about 13,000 catalytic converters, amounting to about $1.4 million, throughout Franklin County.

It also scrapped a minimum of 300 vehicles but only acquired documentation for 40. Six people are set to be indicted for money laundering, scrap law violations, receiving stolen property, and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

Police in Central Ohio Say Teens Stealing Cars Is Now a Trend That Is Escalating Quickly

Groups of teenagers across central Ohio had been stealing cars, particularly Kias and Hyundais, since the beginning of 2022. This gang is called “The Real Kia Boys,” consisting of many repeat offenders. They usually return to the streets after getting arrested.

A common offense of this group is stealing cars and getting into accidents, injuring occupants in other vehicles. Some of whom have been sent to the hospital.

Although it seems like these crimes spiked in 2022, law agencies started tracking these crimes in late 2019. This was all a part of a project called “Operation Game Over,” which seeks to end juvenile crime.

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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Theft Cases in Ohio

I’ve Been Charged With Theft. How Can a Defense Lawyer Help Me?

If you’ve been charged with theft, an attorney can offer the following services:

  • Work to have you released on bail or reduce your bail
  • Strive to get your charges reduced or dropped
  • Cross-examine and examine witnesses
  • Collect and analyze evidence
  • Study and identify which laws apply to your case
  • Negotiates a plea bargain
  • Create a defense strategy

What Are the Differences Between Theft Charges?

In general, the differences between the theft charges all come down to the value of the alleged stolen items:

  • Petty theft: Less than $500
  • Theft: More than $500, but less than $5,000
  • Grand theft: More than $500, but less than $100,000
  • Aggravated theft: More than $100,000

What Are the Penalties for a Theft Conviction in Ohio?

On top of imprisonment and fines, those convicted of theft might face civil penalties. For example, if they stole merchandise from a store, the merchant can demand reimbursement for the stolen items in a civil lawsuit.

Can I Get a Theft Conviction Expunged From My Record?

Yes, you may be eligible to have your record expunged after a theft conviction.

What Are Common Defenses for Theft Cases?

Depending on your case’s circumstances, your attorney may base your defense on one or more of the following:

  • Lack of evidence
  • Entrapment
  • Property not stolen
  • Act of duress or necessity
  • Lack of probable cause
  • Mistaken identity

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Joslyn Law Firm | Columbus Theft Defense Lawyer Near You

Contact Joslyn Law Firm today for a consultation about your alleged theft crime in Columbus, Ohio. It is important to hire a Columbus criminal defense attorney who will make every effort to help you achieve the best possible outcome in your situation.

Call Joslyn Law Firm at (614) 444-1900 for a consultation about your theft offense in Franklin County and surrounding counties, including Pickaway County, Madison County, Delaware County, Licking County, and Fairfield County in Ohio.

  • Brian Joslyn was named Best Lawyer in 2019 by Birdeye.
  • Columbus CEO magazine has yearly selections for the best attorneys in Columbus Ohio. Brian Joslyn has been identified as one of the most highly skilled attorneys across central Ohio.
  • Brian Joslyn has earned recognition for community leadership by Lawyer LegionLawyer Legion
  • Preeminent Attorney Award. Peer rated for highest level of professional exellence.
  • The Better Business Bureau (BBB), founded in 1912, is a private, nonprofit organization whose self-described mission is to focus on advancing marketplace trust.

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