Idaho Petty Theft and Other Theft Laws

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Defining Theft in Idaho

Under Idaho law, a person commits theft when, with intent to deprive another person of property (or to wrongfully appropriate property), he or she wrongfully takes, obtains or withholds that property from its owner. (Idaho Code § 18-2403.)

A theft offense in Idaho can include the following specific actions:

  • using deception to exert control over another person’s property
  • embezzling money
  • using extortion to obtain another person’s property (including by instilling fear of physical injury or property damage, or by threat to otherwise injury or harm)
  • receiving or retaining stolen property
  • acquiring lost or mistakenly delivered property (and not taking appropriate action afterward)
  • obtaining property by fraud or misrepresentation, and
  • stealing labor or services.

Classification and Punishment for Theft in Idaho

Idaho has two major categories of theft: petit theft, which is a misdemeanor, and grand theft, which may be a misdemeanor or felony. Whether a theft constitutes petit theft or grand theft depends on the dollar value of the items taken -- and sometimes the type of property involved. Let’s take a closer look at these two theft categories under Idaho law.

Petit Theft Under Idaho Law. Petit theft, which is commonly known as petty theft, applies to most thefts of property valued at $1,000 or less. Some notable exceptions include property like livestock, firearms, checks, and credit/debt cards. These items fall within the grand theft statute, a more serious criminal charge, even if valued at less than $1,000. (Idaho Code § 18-2407(2).)

Petit theft, which is a misdemeanor in Idaho, is punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000, or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, or both.

Grand Theft Under Idaho Law. Grand theft includes any of the following kinds of offenses:

  • theft by extortion
  • theft of property taken directly from the person of another
  • theft of any property valued at more than $1,000
  • theft of a check, credit/debit card, or any kind of banking instrument
  • theft of a firearm
  • theft of livestock valued at over $150
  • theft of anhydrous ammonia
  • theft of property valued at $1,000 or less as part of a "series of thefts", or
  • theft of property valued at more than $50 during a series of three or more incidents of theft during a single "criminal episode." (Idaho Code § 18-2407(1).)

For grand theft, which is a felony in Idaho, the punishment typically includes a fine of not more than $5,000, and/or confinement in state prison for not less than one year and not more than 14 years. (Idaho Code § 18-2408.)

If grand theft occurs by extortion, punishment may include a fine of no more than $10,000, or a term of imprisonment of not more than 20 years, or both. In the case of the theft or intentional killing of livestock valued at over $150, the grand theft charge carries a mandatory fine of between $1,000 and $5,000, as well as incarceration in state prison for a term ranging between one year and 14 years. Additionally, the theft of livestock will result in the assessment of civil damages (Idaho Code § 25-1910.)

Civil Liability for Theft in the State of Idaho

Anyone who commits retail theft, by knowingly removing or concealing merchandise from a merchant’s premises without paying for it -- or the parent or legal guardian of a minor who commits retail theft -- is civilly liable to the merchant for the retail value of the merchandise, plus damages of not less than $100 nor more than $250, the costs of the lawsuit, and reasonable attorney’s fees. (Idaho Code § 48-701.)

Effect of Prior Convictions on Theft Charge

Idaho theft statutes do not specifically cover the effect of prior convictions on a subsequent theft charge. As a general rule, any criminal conviction -- and especially a criminal record that includes prior theft-related convictions -- will likely result in harsher punishment when it comes time for sentencing after conviction on a subsequent theft charge. For more information, consult an Idaho criminal defense attorney, or conduct your own legal research.

by: , J.D.

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