Felony Theft Defense Attorney in Columbus, Ohio

The laws of Ohio make it relatively easy for a person to draw a charge for committing felony theft. And even though the most relevant state statute explicitly defines felony theft as a nonviolent crime, the law also calls for long jail sentences and high fines when a person is convicted.

Whether an alleged theft is prosecuted as a felony offense depends how much an item or service costs. It can also matter how the item or service was obtained, what the item or service was, and who the alleged victim is. Those factors, as well as the ways in which evidence is collected and prevented, offer many avenues for building an effective defense or negotiating a beneficial plea deal.

What Constitutes an Alleged Felony Theft in Ohio?

Section 2913.02 of the Ohio Revised Code (O.R,C.) makes it a crime to “knowingly”

  • Take something from an owner or service provider without their consent;
  • Take something by deception (i.e., fraud), threat, or intimidation; or
  • Use something beyond “the scope of the express or implied consent of the owner.”

This statutory definition of theft excludes any alleged crime committed while trespassing or while using a weapon or physical force. Breaking and entering is considered burglary. A theft involving violence is called a robbery.

By statute, an alleged theft becomes a felony when the value of the item that was taken or of the service that was obtained exceeds $1,000. Prosecutors also have the authority to charge a person with felony theft when one or both of the following facts apply:

  • The alleged victim is older than 65, a disabled adult, an active-duty member of the military, or the spouse of an active-duty member of the military.
  • The item taken is a firearm, motor vehicle, or a dangerous drug such as marijuana or a Schedule II prescription painkiller like OxyContin.

In any case involving an allegation of theft, the prosecutor and the Columbus criminal defense attorney who represents the accused person must focus on intent. If a person does not know they may have stolen something, they cannot be convicted of theft. Where there is no intent, there can be no crime.

What Are the Potential Penalties for Felony Theft in Ohio?

O.R.C. 2913.02 lists five levels of felony theft, with the distinction being the value of the item or service. For instance, stealing something that is valued at between $1,000 and $7,500 will draw a fifth-degree felony charge. The maximum penalty for a single felony of the fifth degree is 6-12 months in jail and a criminal fine of $2,500.

The statute runs up the chain of felony categories until an alleged theft of something valued at more than $1.5 million will be prosecuted as a felony of the first degree. A table showing the basic penalties for felonies appears elsewhere on this website.

In addition to levying the criminal penalties, a judge can order the payment of restitution to victims. In certain cases, the penalty may also include a suspension of the convicted individual’s driver license and commercial driver’s license.

Do You Need Help With a Felony Theft Case in or Around Columbus?

Colin Maher of the Maher Law Firm handles criminal defense throughout Franklin County and central Ohio. He offers free consultations, and he charges many clients a flat fee. You can reach Colin by phone at (614) 205-2208 or connect with him online.

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