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THEFT OFFENSES

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ZLM Client with long history of theft-related criminal convictions was charged with a felony theft offense for allegedly stealing an electronic device from a store. Despite the fact that the prosecutor played a surveillance video depicting the theft offense and a store employee identified the Client as the individual she observed looking at the device immediately prior to the theft, ZLM attorney was able to convince the jury that Client was NOT GUILTY.

THEFT OFFENSES

Depending on the circumstances, theft offenses can be violations of Ohio law or federal law. Under Ohio law, there are many different theft crimes for which a person can face criminal charges. Again, depending on the type of theft offense – and the alleged victim – theft charges can range from misdemeanors to serious felonies that could land you in prison.

What is a “Theft” Offense in Ohio?

Under Ohio law, specifically, R.C. 2913.01(K), a “theft offense” is, generally, defined as a violation (or conspiracy or attempt to commit, or complicity in committing) any of the following statutes:

R.C. 2911.01(Aggravated robbery)

R.C. 2911.02(Robbery)

R.C. 2911.11(Aggravated burglary)

R.C. 2911.12(Burglary)

R.C. 2911.13(Breaking and entering)

R.C. 2911.31(Safecracking)

R.C. 2911.32(Tampering with coin machines)

R.C. 2913.02(Theft)

R.C. 2913.03(Unauthorized use of a vehicle)

R.C. 2913.04(Unauthorized use of property – computer, cable, or telecommunication property)

R.C. 2913.041(Possession or sale of unauthorized cable television device)

R.C. 2913.05(Telecommunications fraud)

R.C. 2913.06(Unlawful use of telecommunications device)

R.C. 2913.11(Passing bad checks)

R.C. 2913.21(Misuse of credit cards)

R.C. 2913.31(Forgery)

R.C. 2913.32(Criminal simulation)

R.C. 2913.33(Making or using slugs)

R.C. 2913.34(Trademark counterfeiting)

R.C. 2913.40(Medicaid fraud)

R.C. 2913.42(Tampering with records)

R.C. 2913.43(Securing writings by deception)

R.C. 2913.44(Personating an officer)

R.C. 2913.45(Defrauding creditors)

R.C. 2913.47(Insurance fraud)

R.C. 2913.48(Worker’s compensation fraud)

R.C. 2913.51(Receiving stolen property)

R.C. 2915.05(Cheating – corrupting sports)

R.C. 2921.41(Theft in office)

A “theft offense” is further defined as a violation (or conspiracy or attempt to commit, or complicity in committing) of an existing or former municipal ordinance or law of this or any other state, or of the United States, substantially equivalent to any of the above-listed offense or a violation of:

R.C. 2913.41(Defrauding a rental agency or hostelry)

R.C. 2913.81(Repealed – formerly Denying access to a computer – as it existed prior to July 1, 1996)

R.C. 2915.06 (Skill-based amusement machine prohibited conduct – as it existed prior to July 1, 1996)

“Theft offense” is further defined as an offense under an existing or former municipal ordinance or law of this or any other state, or of the United States, involving robbery, burglary, breaking and entering, theft, embezzlement, wrongful conversion, forgery, counterfeiting, deceit, or fraud (or conspiracy or attempt to commit, or complicity in committing any of these offenses).

Ohio’s “Theft” statute, R.C. 2913.02, provides, generally, that:

(A)No person, with purpose to deprive the owner of property or services, shall knowingly obtain or exert control over either the property or services in any of the following ways:

(1)Without the consent of the owner or person authorized to give consent;

(2)Beyond the scope of the express or implied consent of the owner or person authorized to give consent;

(3)By deception;

(4)By threat;

(5)By intimidation.

Generally, the Ohio Revised Code classifies theft offenses according to the value of the property stolen.

Petty Theft: In Ohio, petty theft (also referred to as first-degree theft) is when the value of the stolen property is less than $1000. A person convicted of this crime can face jail time up to 180 days, or a fine up to $1000, or both.

Felony of the Fifth Degree Theft: In Ohio, a theft offense is a Felony of the Fifth Degree Theft when the value of the stolen property is more than $1000 but less than $7500. A person convicted of this crime can face a prison term of up to 12 months, and a fine up to $2500.

Felony of the Fourth Degree Theft: In Ohio, Felony of the Fourth Degree Theft (also referred to as Grand Theft) is when the value of the stolen property is more than $7500 but less than $150,000. A person convicted of this crime can face a prison term of up to 18 months, and a fine up to $5000.

Felony of the Third Degree Theft: In Ohio, Felony of the Third Degree Theft (also referred to as Aggravated Theft) is when the value of the stolen property is more than $150,000 but less than $750,000. A person convicted of this crime can face a prison term of up to 5 years, and a fine up to $10,000.

Felony of the Second Degree Theft: In Ohio, Felony of the Second Degree Theft (also referred to as Aggravated Theft) is when the value of the stolen property is more than $750,000 but less than $1,500,000. A person convicted of this crime can face a prison term of up to 8 years, and a fine up to $15,000.

Felony of the First Degree Theft: In Ohio, when value of the stolen property is more than $1,500,000, the theft offense is considered Felony of the First Degree (also referred to as Aggravated Theft). A person convicted of this crime can face a prison term of up to 11 years, and a fine up to $20,000.

What is “burglary” and “robbery” and how are these offenses different from “theft”?

Ohio’s “burglary” statute, R.C. 2911.12, provides, in relevant part:

(A)No person, by force, stealth, or deception, shall do any of the following:

(1)Trespass in an occupied structure or in a separately secured or separately occupied portion of an occupied structure, when another person other than an accomplice of the offender is present, with purpose to commit in the structure or in the separately secured or separately occupied portion of the structure any criminal offense;

(2)Trespass in an occupied structure or in a separately secured or separately occupied portion of an occupied structure that is a permanent or temporary habitation of any person when any person other than an accomplice of the offender is present or likely to be present, with purpose to commit in the habitation any criminal offense;

(3)Trespass in an occupied structure of in a separately secured or separately occupied portion of an occupied structure, with purpose to commit in the separately secured or separately occupied portion of the structure any criminal offense.

(B)No person, by force, stealth, or deception, shall trespass in a permanent or temporary habitation of any person when any person other than an accomplice of the offender is present or likely to be present.

Accordingly, “burglary” requires, generally, the element of “trespass”, and does not necessarily require the offender to commit a “theft” offense – simply stated, a person who trespasses in an occupied structure or in a “separately secured or separately occupied portion of an occupied structure” when another person is present or likely to be present, with the purpose to commit any criminal offense, can be charged with “burglary”.

When a person commits a robbery and inflicts or attempts or threatens to inflict physical harm on another, or has a deadly weapon or dangerous ordnance on or about his or her control, the person can be charged with “Aggravated burglary”. See, R.C. 2911.11.

Ohio’s “robbery” statute, R.C. 2911.02, provides, in relevant part:

(A)No person, in attempting or committing a theft offense or in fleeing immediately after the attempt or offense, shall do any of the following:

(1)Have a deadly weapon on or about the offender’s person or under the offender’s control;

(2)Inflict, attempt to inflict, or threaten to inflict physical harm on another;

(3)Use or threaten the immediate use of force against another.

Accordingly, “robbery” occurs, generally, when a person has a deadly weapon or inflicts physical harm on another, or uses or threatens to use force against another while either attempting, committing, or fleeing immediately after a “theft offense”. “Aggravated robbery” occurs, generally, when a person displays, brandishes, or uses a deadly weapon in committing a robbery, has a dangerous ordnance in his or her control when committing a robbery, or inflicts or attempts to inflict serious physical harm on another while committing a robbery. See, R.C. 2911.01.

What are some Defenses for Theft Offenses in Ohio?

There are many different defenses that apply to theft cases. Below is a breakdown of some common theft defenses that the attorneys of ZLM may use to help you fight against allegations of theft.

Ownership of the Property/ Consent to Possession of the Property: A person accused of theft might have a good defense if their attorney can establish that the accused has reason to believe the property they took was in fact theirs, that they had valid, legal claim to it, or they had the express or implied consent of the owner to possess the property.

Entrapment: Entrapment occurs when a law enforcement agent induces a person to commit an offense that he/she would have otherwise been unlikely to commit. In many cases, entrapment is an effective defense that negates criminal liability. For example, the entrapment defense could apply if the intent to steal came from the entrapping law enforcement agent with intention to subsequently target you for prosecution.

Return of property: Though not a per se legal “defense” to a charge of theft, there are certain cases where the return of stolen property attorney can serve to mitigate criminal charges, or lessen the effect of criminal charges or penalties. ZLM attorneys may use the return of stolen property as a tool in its defense of its clients, or to demonstrate a client’s genuine remorse and/or acceptance of responsibility.

The attorneys of ZLM know the laws regarding theft offenses inside and out. Our firm is dedicated to protecting our clients’ freedom and reputations. If you are charged with a theft offense, contact ZLM to learn how we can fight for you.

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