Obtaining control over the property of another person is theft. Utah law defines several kinds of conduct that constitute the offense: physically taking something, deceiving others, or extorting someone. Regardless of how theft is committed, it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. Several factors determine the charge level, including the item's value, the type of property, and the defendant’s criminal history. A conviction can result in confinement and fines. You do not simply have to accept the punishments if you have been accused. You have the right to fight your charge to pursue a favorable result, and a criminal defense lawyer can help.
Acts Constituting Theft in Utah
Theft, in general, means taking control of someone else’s property. Additionally, the actor intends to deprive the owner of the item.
Depriving someone of property can occur by:
- Keeping the object permanently or long enough that it loses its value or use,
- Returning the property to the owner only after they provide some type of compensation, or
- Getting rid of the property, preventing the owner from recovering it.
Utah law recognizes that theft doesn’t just occur when someone physically takes something from another person. There are other ways to deprive an individual of an item they own.
These ways include:
- Deception: Theft by deception occurs when an individual makes or withholds material information or fails to correct false information to influence a person’s decision. It can also include instances when a peson keeps someone else from obtaining the data they need to fully consider the consequences of their actions. Deception may also involve the actor making promises they don’t intend to keep or know that can’t be kept.
- Extortion: Theft by extortion consists of making a threat to force a person to give up their property. The actor might threaten to:
- Harm the property owner or any other person
- Confine or restrain the property owner or any other person
- Commit a crime against the property owner
- Accuse the owner of a crime or expose them to harmful acts
- Reveal private information about the owner
- Testify against or withhold testimony in any legal action the owner is in
- Use official status to take or withhold action against anyone
- Cause a strike, boycott, or other group action
- Do anything that would harm any aspect of the other person’s life
Levels of Theft Charges
Theft in general, by deception, or extortion can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. The level is determined by the property's value, the type of property, how the property was taken, and the actor’s criminal history.
When Theft Is a Felony in Utah
Theft can be charged as a third- or second-degree felony.
Second-degree felony charges arise when the property:
- Is valued at $5,000 or more,
- Is a firearm or motor vehicle, or
- Is taken directly from the other person.
Third-degree felony charges arise when:
- The property is valued at more than $1,500 but less than $5,000,
- The property is a catalytic converter,
- The property is valued at $500 or more and the actor has two prior theft, robbery, or burglary convictions in the past 10 years,
- The property is valued at $500 or more but less than $1,500, the actor committed the theft in a place they had previously committed the offense in the past 5 years, and the merchant had notified them to stay off the property, or
- The actor has prior felony theft convictions in the past 10 years.
When Theft Is a Misdemeanor in Utah
Theft can be a class A or class B misdemeanor.
It is a class A misdemeanor when:
- The property is valued at $500 or more but less than $1,500,
- The property is valued at less than $500, the actor committed it somewhere they had previously committed theft within the past 5 years, and the merchant had notified them to stay off the property, or
- The actor has two prior theft convictions in the past 10 years.
Theft is a class B misdemeanor when the property is valued at less than $500.
What Happens If You Get Caught Stealing in Utah?
If someone is convicted of theft, they could be sentenced to a term of incarceration and ordered to pay a fine. The length of confinement and amount of fine depend on the level of charge.
For a second-degree felony, the potential punishments include the following:
- 1 to 15 years of imprisonment and/or
- Up to $10,000 in fines
A third-degree felony can be penalized by:
- Not more than 5 years of imprisonment and/or
- Up to $5,000 in fines
A class A misdemeanor carries:
- A jail term of not more than 364 days and/or
- A fine of up to $2,500
A class B misdemeanor is punishable by:
- A jail term not to exceed 6 months and/or
- A fine of not more than $1,000
Contact Our Firm Today
At Lokken & Putnam, P.C., our Salt Lake City team helps individuals fight theft charges. We leverage our skills and insights to build comprehensive and aggressive defenses for our clients.
To speak with us about your case, call (801) 829-9783 or submit an online contact form today.