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Theft Crimes

Theft 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.

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

Columbus Theft Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a theft violation in Columbus, Ohio and the surrounding areas of Dublin, Westerville, Reynoldsburg or Lancaster, contact the 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 the Joslyn Law Firm at (614) 444-1900 for a consultation today.


Ohio Theft Crimes Information Center


Detention and Arrest of Shoplifters in Ohio

Ohio 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 Rev. 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. In order 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 criminal defense attorney 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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Theft Violations and Definitions in the Ohio Revised Code

    • Petty Theft– Ohio Rev. 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 Rev. 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 Rev. Code § 2913.71, regardless of the property’s value, if the item stolen was:
        • A credit card,
        • Check or other 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 Rev. 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 Theft– Ohio Rev. 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 Vehicle– Ohio Rev. Code § 2913.03:
        If a person knowingly uses a motor vehicle, aircraft, motorcycle, motorboat, or other 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 Property– Ohio Rev. 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.

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Penalties for Theft Crimes in Ohio

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 the property stolen. The Ohio standard sentencing guidelines for theft crimes are below.

  • Misdemeanor of the First Degree – This degree of misdemeanor can result in a jail sentence up to 180 days, and/or a fine up to $1,000.
  • Felony of the Fifth Degree – Penalties for this degree of 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 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 ten years, and/or fines up to $20,000.

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Possible Civil Penalties for Theft Offenses

A merchant or property owner can recover damages from any person who commits a theft offense against them according to Ohio Rev. 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 Crimes

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 – The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, or NASP, 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:

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

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Joslyn Law Firm | Columbus Theft Lawyer

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

Call the 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.