10th August 2017 | Sand Law, PLLC
Theft is by far one of the most common crimes committed and prosecuted in almost any modern society. Acts of theft vary widely from small infractions like shoplifting candy bars to violent acts of extortion and, naturally, those who commit theft vary just as widely. The court system in North Dakota and the US as a whole recognizes this striation and therefore carefully judges each theft case individually in order to dispense the correct amount of penalty and discouragement. Small crimes are faced with appropriately small punishments, while larger thefts under extreme circumstances are dealt with much more harshly.
The 4 Stages of Theft Classification
Because there is so much variance between cases, North Dakota defines theft in four tiered categories called Classes but keeping them straight can be a little confusing. The lowest level, with the least punishment, is a Class B Misdemeanor while the highest level is a Class B Felony. Lined up, they look like this:
- Class B Misdemeanor Theft
- Class A Misdemeanor Theft
- Class C Felony Theft
- Class B Felony Theft
The most important distinction to remember is the $500 rule. If what was stolen is not in a special category and does not exceed $500 in value, the crime is a misdemeanor. Otherwise, it will be charged as a felony.
Class B Misdemeanor Theft
If the items or services stolen are equal to $250 or less, you may qualify for the lowest possible charge of a class B misdemeanor. However, this also depends on none of the items falling into a protected category and the act of theft cannot be considered either fraud or embezzlement. The maximum penalties for this charge are no more than 30 days of imprisonment and no more than $1,000, but you can be charged with both time and fines.
Class A Misdemeanor Theft
For alleged theft of property or services valued between $250 and $500, you can be charged with a class A misdemeanor. This charge also applies to any theft valued no more than $500 that was committed through fraud or embezzlement. Fraud is defined by theft through deception in a situation where you have been trusted with someone else’s money. Embezzlement, on the other hand, is theft in the course of your work duties in which you have access to company or client money. The penalties for a class A misdemeanor theft can result in as much as one year of imprisonment, a maximum fine of $2,000 or both.
Class C Felony Theft
This is the first level of felony and a crime can qualify as a class C felony for one or more of several reasons. First, any theft worth a value of more than $500 is automatically a class C felony. No matter what the value, if the stolen items include at least one vehicle, firearm, prescription drug, government or financial record, ammunition, or explosives it is automatically a felony, as is rustling even a single head of livestock. For a class C felony theft, the longest imprisonment time you can face is 5 years and the maximum fine is $5,000 and, of course, you could face both.
Class B Felony Theft
For a theft of a value greater than $10000, a crime will qualify as an incredibly serious class B felony. Class B’s are also applicable in thefts in which property is taken through the threat of serious violence or threat to commit further felony actions. A clear example of this would be theft via extortion. The consequences for a class B felony theft cannot exceed 10 years in prison or $10,000 in fines.
If you have found yourself accused of any magnitude of theft in the state of North Dakota, the lawyers of Sand Law are experienced in theft defense and ready to help. For more information about how theft cases are handled or schedule a consultation, please contact us. We have offices in Watford City, Williston, Minot, and Bismark.