Facing petty theft charges in Ohio? You might be wondering what exactly qualifies as petty theft in the state, and why you have been charged with this crime rather than another type of theft or robbery.
According to Ohio’s criminal code, theft is defined as one person having the intent of depriving the rightful owner of property of services, exerting control over property or services or obtaining property or services without the rightful owner’s consent. That could occur by threat, intimidation, deception or otherwise.
There are a variety of situations in which you could be charged with petty theft in Ohio, including shoplifting or using false premises to obtain money or property from another person. The “petty” aspect of petty theft means the services or property you stole were worth less than $1,000 and did not fall into the category of a vehicle, drug or firearm. However, if what you stole was from a service member, a disabled person or an elderly person, the court might see fit to levy a harsher charge than petty theft.
Consequences of convictions
Petty theft is the “least serious” theft crime you can be charged with, and is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor. Any other theft charge will be considered a felony of varying degree based on its severity. If you are convicted of petty theft, you can spend up to 180 days in jail and face $1,000 in fines. This conviction will, of course, stay on your criminal record unless you get it expunged later.
If you do not have any prior criminal convictions on your record, you might be able to get out of serving jail time through a plea deal or a pre-trial diversion program. The types of diversion programs available differ across Ohio in various counties, but generally what will happen is that rather than going forward with a trial for the theft, you come to an agreement with the prosecutors of the case to participate in a program that will include community service, restitution, supervision and other possible elements over a certain period of time.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, your program might also require you to go through drug and alcohol testing, rehabilitation and education. If the court has reason to believe a substance addiction was a factor in the crime, you may be eligible for what’s referred to as Intervention in Lieu of Conviction (IILC). In this program, you will receive supervised addiction treatment, including counseling and testing. You must remain drug and alcohol free for 12 months or more.
So long as you complete these programs and follow all of the requirements associated with them, you will have the petty theft charges dropped, which means you’ll avoid the crime going on your permanent record. However, a failure to complete the program will result in a guilty verdict and you will face the consequences that come along with it.
For more information about petty theft in Ohio and your possible defenses against the charges, contact an Ohio criminal defense lawyer at Herzner Law, LLC today.
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