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When can allegations of theft lead to felony charges?

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

Theft offenses in Kentucky can arise from a variety of situations. Someone taking merchandise from a retail store without paying for it could lead to theft charges. Stealing from someone’s home or robbing a person on the street could also lead to criminal charges.

A variety of factors, including the use of violence or a weapon, could lead to more serious criminal charges and penalties for the party accused. Theft charges in Kentucky also differ depending on the property involved. Prosecutors frequently file misdemeanor charges over theft allegations, but sometimes people face felony charges instead.

What scenarios may warrant felony prosecution for a Kentucky theft offense?

Higher-value property leads to more severe charges

The total value of the items involved in a theft incident has a major influence on the charges someone faces. Lawmakers recently changed the threshold at which a theft offense goes from a misdemeanor to a felony.

Previously, the total value of the resources stolen had to amount to $500 to justify felony charges. The recent change to the law increased that threshold to $1,000. There are a variety of felony theft charges possible after reaching that threshold depending on the total value of the property stolen.

Certain types of property can also automatically result in felony charges, regardless of the value of the items. Felony charges may follow the theft of certain items, including:

  • firearms
  • controlled substances
  • anhydrous ammonia

Additionally, the state can sometimes pursue felony charges for theft incidents that occur during a state of declared emergency, including natural disasters and times of public unrest. The law allows prosecutors to increase the class of the offense by one category in such circumstances.

Every theft case is unique

How the prosecutor chooses to charge the offense and the defense strategies available are different in every case involving a property related crime. If a defendant pleads guilty, they could face incarceration and financial penalties. The record of their conviction could also affect their life for years to come.

Fighting back against pending theft charges requires an understanding of the law and the state’s evidence. Defendants who learn more about their circumstances can prepare more effectively to defend against allegations that they stole property from others.