Theft crimes involve the knowing use or taking of another’s property with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive the other person of the right or benefit from that property.
The value of the property stolen is one determining factor of the degree of the criminal offense. For example, if the property stolen is valued at $100 or more, but less than $300, the offender commits petit theft of the first degree, punishable as a misdemeanor of the first degree.
The location of where the property is taken is another factor in determining the degree of the criminal offense. Using the same example above, if the stolen property was taken from a dwelling (home) or from the unenclosed curtilage of a dwelling (front, side or back yard of a home), the theft is a felony of the third degree even though the value of the stolen property is for a misdemeanor offense.
Prior theft convictions can be a pivotal factor in how a new theft crime is charged. For example, a person who commits a petit theft and who has previously been convicted two or more times of any theft commits a felony of the third degree. In this example, an arrest for a misdemeanor theft results in the charge of a third degree felony offense due to the prior theft convictions.