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How to determine if theft falls under petty or grand theft?

The concept of theft, also known as “larceny” in some places, is something that most of us are familiar with. It involves taking something that does not belong to you with the intention of keeping it. However, the laws surrounding theft can be complex, with various categories and degrees of charges depending on the value of the stolen property.

Petty vs. grand theft

There are two primary categories of theft in most jurisdictions, including Indiana: petty theft and grand theft.

  • Petty theft is the lesser of the two categories. It typically involves the theft of lower-valued property, such as shoplifting, theft of personal belongings or low-value items from someone’s home or car.
  • Grand theft involves more substantial property or assets, which may include high-value items like expensive electronics, vehicles or even large sums of money.

The distinction between the two lies in the value of the stolen property and the severity of the consequences.

What is the threshold for grand theft?

Indiana classifies an act as grand theft when the stolen property is worth more than $750. The state employs several methods to establish this value. Here is a closer look at the different valuation methods:

  • Replacement cost: Assessing how much it would cost to replace the stolen item with a new one of similar kind and quality.
  • Market value: Evaluating the current market price for the item, considering factors such as depreciation and condition.
  • Appraisals: In some cases, the value of unique or high-value items may need to be appraised by qualified professionals, especially if the stolen property is difficult to price through standard means.

Petty theft carries lighter penalties; grand theft is a more severe crime and often leads to harsher penalties.

Your freedom may be at stake

Theft laws vary from state to state, and they can be complex. While petty theft involves lower-value items and is generally treated as a misdemeanor, grand theft involves higher-value property and can lead to felony charges with more significant penalties. If you are facing theft charges in Indiana, it may put your freedom at risk. To safeguard your interests, it is advisable to consult with a defense attorney.