Iowa Petty Theft and Other Theft Laws

Talk to a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Enter Your Zip Code to Connect with a Lawyer Serving Your Area

Gavel and Scales

Defining Theft in Iowa

Under Iowa law, a person commits theft when he or she does any of the following:

  •  takes possession or control of another person’s property with intent to deprive the person of that property
  • misappropriates, misuses, disposes, or conceals the property of another
  • obtains labor, services, or property by deception
  • exercises control over stolen property (when the person knows or has good reason to believe the property is stolen)
  • writes bad checks
  • obtains public utility, telephone service, or cable service through an unauthorized connection to the service
  • accessing a computer knowingly and without authorization, or
  • intentionally fails to return video rental property. (Iowa Code § 714.1.) 

Classification and Punishment for Theft in Iowa

Like many states, Iowa classifies its theft offenses according to the value of the property or services taken. Let’s take a more detailed look at each level of theft under Iowa law.

Simple Misdemeanor Theft. The theft of property valued at no more than $200 is theft in the fifth degree, a simple misdemeanor under Iowa law. This level of theft is sometimes known as "petty theft," and is the lowest level degree of theft in Iowa. (Iowa Code § 714.2(5).)

A person convicted of a simple misdemeanor can receive a sentence of a fine ranging from $65 to $625 and incarceration for not more than 30 days. (Iowa Code § 903.1(1)(a).)

Serious Misdemeanor Theft. Theft of property with a value ranging between $200 and $500 is theft in the fourth degree, which is classified as a "serious misdemeanor" under Iowa law. (Iowa Code § 714.2(4).) 

A person convicted of a serious misdemeanor will be fined at least $315 but not more than $1,875. In addition, the court may order a term of imprisonment of no more than one year. (Iowa Code § 903.1(1)(b).)

Aggravated Misdemeanor Theft. Theft of property valued at more than $500, but not more than $1,000 is theft in the third degree, which is an "aggravated misdemeanor." (Iowa Code §  714.2(3).)

Theft of any property valued at no more than $500 will be bumped up to an aggravated misdemeanor if the offender has two previous theft convictions.

Likewise, a person who commits simple misdemeanor assault after removing, concealing, or attempting to remove property valued at less than $200 from a store without paying for the property is guilty of aggravated theft, which is an aggravated misdemeanor under Iowa law. For an aggravated misdemeanor, the maximum penalty shall be a term of imprisonment not to exceed two years, as well as a fine ranging between $625 and $6,250. (Iowa Code § 903.1(2).) 

Class D Felony Theft. Theft of property valued at between $1,000 and $10,000, or the theft of most motor vehicles, is theft in the second degree, a class D felony. (Iowa Code § 714.2(2).)

A Class D felon, as long as not an habitual offender, shall receive a sentence of confinement of no more than five years, and a fine in the amount of at least $750 but not more than $7,500. (Iowa Code § 902.9(5).)

Class C Felony Theft. A theft offense is considered theft in the first degree, which is a Class C felony, in the following circumstances:

  • the property taken is valued at greater than $10,000
  • the property (of any value) is taken from the person of another, or
  • the property is taken from a building which has been destroyed or left unoccupied because of natural disaster, civil unrest, bombing, or battle.

(Iowa Code § 714.2(1).) A Class C felon, so long as not an habitual offender, shall receive a sentence of confinement of no more than ten years, and a fine of at least $1,000 but not more than $10,000.  (Iowa Code § 902.9(4).)

Civil Penalties for Theft in Iowa

A person who commits shoplifting may be civilly liable to the store owner for the following:

  • the return of the merchandise (or the reimbursement of the purchase price of the merchandise)
  • actual damages for any decrease in value of the merchandise returned, and
  • the greater of $50 or actual costs -- not to exceed $200 -- incurred by the owner in recovering the merchandise or damages. (Iowa Code §  645.3.)

Effect of Prior Theft Conviction in Iowa

Any theft of property valued at not more than $500 will be bumped up to the offense of theft in the third degree if the offender has two prior theft convictions. (Iowa Code § 714.2(3).)

Similarly, if a person commits aggravated theft, and has a previous conviction for aggravated theft, robbery, or extortion, the person will be charged with a Class D felony rather than an aggravated misdemeanor. (Iowa Code § 714.3A) For more information about how prior theft convictions affect a subsequent theft charge, conduct your own legal research on the subject, or consult an experienced Iowa criminal defense attorney.

Talk to a Lawyer

Want to talk to an attorney? Start here.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Connect with local attorneys
RELATED ADS
LA-NOLO3:CM1.2.1.20150520.32264+