The laws governing theft in our state can be confusing – especially if you’re accused of breaking one. Broadly speaking, under Tennessee state law, theft occurs when a person purposefully and knowingly takes property without the owner’s permission.
There are a wide variety of theft classifications, both at the state level and the federal level. Depending on the type of charges you face, you may end up in a local jail or a federal prison. Let’s do a quick breakdown of some of the more common charges:
Tennessee law defines shoplifting as the theft of property from a merchant; it is always handled by local or state courts. Larceny occurs when a person trespasses onto another person’s property and takes something after purposefully stealing it. Burglary occurs when a person, without the owner’s permission, enters a nonpublic building or any vehicle, intending to commit theft or assault. Robbery is the purposeful stealing of property via violence, fear, and/or threat of violence. Larceny, burglary and robbery can be charged by the state or the federal government.
Whereas shoplifting, larceny, burglary, and robbery are overt and physical, embezzlement is subtler, and classified as a form of white-collar theft. Under Tennessee law, embezzlement occurs when a person who has legal access to, but not ownership of, another person’s property or money and/or is entrusted with the management of another person’s property or money, steals all or some of the property or money for the thief’s personal benefit. Embezzlement charges are often handled at the federal level as well and are prosecuted under broad wire fraud or mail fraud statutes.
What are the penalties for stealing?
If a person commits theft, the penalties he or she faces depends on the value of the stolen property and the type of theft he or she committed. For example, if the stolen property is worth no more than $1000 and the theft is classified as a Class A misdemeanor, the thief faces no more than eleven months and 29 days’ worth of jail time and/or a fine up to $2,500. However, if the stolen property is worth at least $60,000 and the theft is classified as a Class B felony, the thief faces at least eight, but no more than thirty years’ worth of incarceration and a fine up to $25,000. Theft over $250,000 is a Class A felony, the most serious crime in Tennessee aside from capital offenses. Burglary and robbery are both felony offenses, so if a person commits burglary and/or robbery, he or she will spend a varying number of years in prison. If a person commits embezzlement, he or she faces fines, jail time, and/or prison time consistent with the amount of money stolen.
Whichever way you slice it, theft is illegal, and the penalties for theft are serious. If you have been charged with any type of theft, you will want a skilled lawyer on your side to help protect your rights. Your future could depend on it.
If you, a relative, or a friend are in trouble with the law in Tennessee, turn to the Sevierville criminal defense attorneys at Delius & McKenzie, PLLC for help. We are proud to serve our clients in Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Seymour, and Pigeon Forge. To learn more about our services, please call us at (865) 428-8780 or fill out our contact form.