Aggressive, Ethical Legal Defense in Tennessee

Theft in Tennessee

What is Theft in Tennessee?

Theft is the most common property crime in the city of Chattanooga, and the United States in large. Theft is a broad statutory term that covers many different kinds of specific crimes that involve stealing something from someone or an entity. Depending on where you are, and the circumstances of your situation, there might be more specific charges or crimes being brought against you. In general, though, there are two main categories of theft: theft of property and theft of services.

Theft of Property

TCA § 39-14-103

(a) A person commits theft of property if, with intent to deprive the owner of property, the person knowingly obtains or exercises control over the property without the owner's effective consent.

Defending theft cases against corporate entities such as Walmart, Target, or the like can present unique challenges due to the fact that they have strict policies that require them to prosecute. Oftentimes, a representative is sent to Court who has no first hand knowledge of the event but will likely have video evidence. However, we do see a fair amount of overzealous security officers who believe any mishandling of merchandise equates to a theft. One of the key elements to always be alert to is the intent of the action.

Theft of Services

TCA § 39-14-104

(a) A person commits theft of services who:

(1) Intentionally obtains services by deception, fraud, coercion, forgery, false statement, false pretense or any other means to avoid payment for the services;

(2) Having control over the disposition of services to others, knowingly diverts those services to the person's own benefit or to the benefit of another not entitled thereto; or

(3) Knowingly absconds from establishments where compensation for services is ordinarily paid immediately upon the rendering of them, including, but not limited to, hotels, motels, and restaurants, without payment or a bona fide offer to pay.

(b) Any individual directly or indirectly harmed by a violation of subsection (a) shall have legal standing to report such violations to law enforcement and testify in support of corresponding criminal charges.

Grading of Theft

Unless otherwise stated in the crime you’re being charged with, the sentence you might be facing is majorly determined by the value the court places on the item(s) or service(s) you are accused of stealing. The state of Tennessee provides an outline of how value impacts the severity of your charge.

TCA § 39-14-105

(a) Theft of property or services is:

(1) A Class A misdemeanor if the value of the property or services obtained is one thousand dollars ($1,000) or less;

(2) A Class E felony if the value of the property or services obtained is more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) but less than two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500);

(3) A Class D felony if the value of the property or services obtained is two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) or more but less than ten thousand dollars ($10,000);

(4) A Class C felony if the value of the property or services obtained is ten thousand dollars ($10,000) or more but less than sixty thousand dollars ($60,000);

(5) A Class B felony if the value of the property or services obtained is sixty thousand dollars ($60,000) or more but less than two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000); and

(6) A Class A felony if the value of the property or services obtained is two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000) or more.

(b)(1) In a prosecution for theft of property, theft of services, and any offense for which the punishment is determined pursuant to this section, the state may charge multiple criminal acts committed against one (1) or more victims as a single count if the criminal acts arise from a common scheme, purpose, intent or enterprise.

(2) The monetary value of property from multiple criminal acts which are charged in a single count of theft of property shall be aggregated to establish value under this section.

(c) Venue in a prosecution for any offense punishable pursuant to this section shall be in the county where one (1) or more elements of the offense occurred, or in the county where an act of solicitation, inducement, offer, acceptance, delivery, storage, or financial transaction occurred involving the property, service or article of the victim.

Sentencing

The state of Tennessee also provides an outline of how the severity of that charge impacts the sentence you might be facing:

TCA §40-35-111 (e) (1)

A Class A Misdemeanor carries a sentence of up to 11 months and 29 days, or a fine of up to $2,500, or both, unless otherwise stated in the statute.

TCA §40-35-111 (b) (5)

A Class E Felony carries a sentence of between 1 to 6 years, or a fine of up to $3,000, or both, unless otherwise stated in the statute.

TCA §40-35-111 (b) (4)

A Class D Felony carries a sentence of between 2 to 12 years, or a fine of up to $5,000, or both, unless otherwise stated in the statute.

TCA §40-35-111 (b) (3)

A Class C Felony carries a sentence of between 3 to 15 years, or a fine of up to $10,000, or both, unless otherwise stated in the statute.

TCA §40-35-111 (b) (2)

A Class B Felony carries a sentence of between 8 to 30 years, or a fine of up to $25,000, or both, unless otherwise stated in the statute.

TCA §40-35-111 (b) (1)

A Class A Felony carries a sentence of between 15 to 60 years, or a fine of up to $50,000, or both, unless otherwise stated in the statute.

If you or a loved one has been charged with theft, call our experienced criminal defense attorneys now!
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