Minnesota Theft Defense Lawyer: What’s The Difference Between Theft, and Grand Theft?


Stealing is always the wrong choice to make, but while the action may always be the same, the crime someone is charged with can vary depending on what they stole, and how they stole it. If someone broke into a home to take items of value, that’s burglary. If someone stole valuables using force or the fear of force, then that’s robbery. If someone picked a pocket, or just took something left unattended then that’s theft… but where do you draw the line between petty theft and grand theft?

Well, that line is typically with the value of the item that was stolen.

What’s The Difference Between Petty and Grand Theft in Minnesota?

Let’s begin at the beginning; theft is when you take someone else’s property without that person’s consent. Maybe you steal a watch off someone’s wrist, or lift a billfold from their jacket pocket, or pose as a valet to steal a car, but all of these are examples of theft. An act also qualifies if someone uses deceit in order to acquire someone else’s property, or if they file a false medical claim, keep lost property without making any effort to return it to the proper owner, keeps property that was being leased or rented, intentionally deprives another of a charge for Internet or cable service, or takes or drives a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent.

So when does something stop being plain theft (or petty theft), and become grand theft (or felony theft)?

That depends. Generally speaking the decision will be made based on the value of the item in question. The more valuable something is, the harsher the penalty for the theft.

Minnesota Scale and Punishments

So how does it work in Minnesota? Well, according to Criminal Defense Lawyer, petty theft is defined as anything worth less than $500. According to Minnesota statutes, someone convicted of petty theft will receive no more than 90 days in jail, and/or a fine of up to $1,000 as punishment for the crime.

If the value of the theft is worth more than $500, but less than $1,000, the punishment might be imprisonment of up to 1 year, and/or a fine of up to $3,000. After this point is where things get complicated.

If the value of the theft is worth more than $1,000, but less than $5,000, the punishment might be imprisonment of up to 5 years, and/or a fine of no more than $10,000. Theft at this level also includes a theft of a Schedule III, IV, or V substance, thefts where the perpetrator has prior convictions within the past 5 years, when the property is taken from a corpse, when a public or court record is stolen, when a motor vehicle is stolen, or when the property is stolen during a riot.

When the value of the theft is worth more than $5,000, the offense is punishable by a prison term of not more than 10 years, a fine of no more than $20,000, or both. This level of punishment is also used for the theft of trade secrets, theft of an explosive or incendiary device, and theft of a Schedule I or II controlled substance.

Lastly, the most serious form of theft in Minnesota is for thefts worth more than $35,000. Punishment might be imprisonment for up to 20 years, a fine of no more than $100,000, or both. In addition to the value of the theft, this level of punishment may be applicable for aggravating circumstances (such as taking advantage of vulnerable victims), and it is applicable for the theft of firearms.

If you find yourself caught up in any kind of theft investigation, petty, grand, or otherwise, it’s important for you to get representation as quickly as you can. If you need help, simply contact us today!

Disclaimer: The content of this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact Jennifer Speas to discuss the specifics of your case. Please read our disclaimer.