Interviewer: What are the different types of theft charges starting from the minimum to the more severe?
Court Koehler: There are several different kinds of theft charges that you can get. There are shoplifting charges and then there is theft of services and they’re all the same basic penalties and the same levels of offense. They’re just tagged a little differently depending on the underlying facts. They start at a class B misdemeanor and they go up from there and the severity of the offense is depending on how much value was taken or was alleged to be taken. The cut off is $1,500 for a class A misdemeanor so under $1,500 is a class B misdemeanor; above 1500 is a class A misdemeanor. If it is more than $5,000, then you’re going to start to get into the felony theft charges which could be auto theft or theft of something much more than just shoplifting charges.
Embezzlement is Usually Charged as a Felony Because it’s a Much More Severe Crime
Interviewer: When we are talking about theft that involves embezzlement, is that also something that is going to go directly into the felony bracket?
Court Koehler: Yes. If you have that kind of a charge, it cannot be charged as theft. It may be charged as something like fraud or securities fraud or something that’s a little bit different than just garden-variety theft. It’s the same basic underlying crime but yes, usually a much higher value and a much more severe crime.
The Items or Things that are Typically Stolen in the State of Utah
Interviewer: What are the things that people are typically stealing or taking?
Court Koehler: The less severe theft can be anything from some jewelry or some make up at a store, CDs, books and things like that that you would take just from a regular retail store. Sometimes, lawyers don’t get involved in those kinds of cases. It’s not a real severe offense and it’s the kind of thing that people don’t care about it. A lot of times they don’t fight it unless they really feel like they were wrongly accused. Some of the things that can happen when they think they’re wrongfully accused and you can accidentally take something. Maybe it doesn’t get charged the right way, maybe security tag doesn’t get removed and when you go through the exits of the doors, the security system alarm rings.
People Generally Wish to Avoid Having Any Sort of Offense on their Record
Sometimes, you have cases of mistaken identity and things like that. There are some of those things that can happen with petty crimes. There are smaller charges of Class B misdemeanor, not a lot of fines or a lot of danger of jail time or anything like that but obviously for somebody that doesn’t have a criminal history or somebody that is trying to keep things off their records, it’s really important to keep their criminal history free. A lot of the clients that I have from theft cases will kind of fit in that category where they feel like they are wrongly accused and they don’t want something bad going on their record.
The Typical Demographics Associated With Theft Crimes in Utah
Interviewer: In your experience, is there a typical demographic or a certain type of individual or a certain situation that someone put themselves in to make them want to take something?
Court Koehler: Yes. It tends to be younger people with the shoplifting kind of charges and that has much to do with who is the store security, and the police are watching as it does whether or not those are the only people committing the crimes. I am sure that people from all walks of life shoplift but it tends to be the younger people that are caught.