If you have been charged with a criminal offense involving theft in Tennessee it is in your best interest to understand what the State needs to prove to convict you and what penalties you could face if convicted. With that in mind, a Murfreesboro criminal attorney at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby discusses what you need to know if charged with theft in Tennessee.
How Is Theft Defined in Tennessee?
Most criminal offenses involving theft are governed by Tennessee Code §39-14-101 et seq. Theft of property and theft of services are the two broad categories into which most theft crimes fall; however, there are also several specific theft crimes illustrated within the statutes.
Theft of property is defined within the statutes as “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.”
Theft of services is defined requires the prosecution to show that you did one of the following:
- Intentionally obtained services by deception, fraud, coercion, forgery, false statement, false pretense, or any other means to avoid payment for the services.
- Having had control over the disposition of services to others, knowingly diverted those services to your own benefit or to the benefit of another not entitled thereto.
- Knowingly absconded 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.
Among the specific theft offenses that you may need to understand are offenses such as:
- Worthless checks. This involves issuing or passing a check (or similar order) knowing that at the time you do not have sufficient funds in the bank to cover the check OR stopping payment on a check when the goods or services were as represented at the time you issued the check.
- Joyriding. Involves taking another’s automobile, airplane, motorcycle, bicycle, boat, or other vehicle without the consent of the owner but you do not have the intent to deprive the owner thereof.
- Credit cards. Illegal possession of a credit card occurs when you know you do not have the consent of the owner or issuer and you take, exercise control over or otherwise use that card or information from that card. Fraudulent use of a credit card involves using or allowing to be used a credit or debit card or information from that card, for the purpose of obtaining property, credit, services or anything else of value with knowledge that:
- The card is forged or stolen.
- The card has been revoked or cancelled.
- The card has expired.
- For any other reason the use of the card is unauthorized by either the issuer or the person to whom the credit or debit card is issued.
What Are the Potential Penalties for a Theft Conviction in Tennessee?
While some of the specific theft offenses have corresponding penalties, the potential penalties you face if convicted of most theft offenses in Tennessee will depend on the value of property or services involved. Along with court costs, fees, and potential fines, you could face the following terms of imprisonment if convicted of a theft crime in Tennessee:
- Property or services valued at $1000 or less. Charged as a Class A misdemeanor that carries a potential sentence of up to 11 months and 29 days in jail.
- Property or services valued at more than $1000 but less than $2,500. Charged as a Class E felony that carries a term of imprisonment of one to six years in prison.
- Property or services valued at more than $2,500 but less than $10,000. Charged as a Class D felony that carries a term of imprisonment of two to 12 years in prison.
- Property or services valued at more than $10,000 but less $60,000. Charged as a Class C felony that carries a term of imprisonment of three to 15 years in prison.
- Property or services valued at $60,000 but less $250,000. Charged as a Class B felony that carries a term of imprisonment of 8 to 30 years in prison.
- Property or services valued at more than $250,000. Charged as a Class A felony that carries a term of imprisonment of 15 to 60 years.
Contact a Murfreesboro Criminal Attorney
If you have been accused of a theft crime in Tennessee, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro criminal attorney at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.