Minnesota Petty Theft and Other Theft Laws

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Defining Theft Under Minnesota Law

Minnesota criminal statutes list a number of specific actions that, when committed, would constitute the offense of theft. For instance, a person commits theft under Minnesota law when he or she:

  • intentionally takes, uses, transfers, conceals or retains possession of property belonging to another, with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property
  • obtains possession, custody, or title to property or services by intentionally deceiving another person with a false representation
  • files a false medical claim
  • finds lost property but makes no reasonable attempt to restore it to its owner
  • leases or rents personal property but fails to return the property or pay for the property
  • intentionally deprives another of a lawful charge for cable television or telecommunications service, or
  • takes or drives a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent. (Minn. Stat. Ann. § 609.52 Subd. 2.)

Classification of Theft Offenses and Penalties in Minnesota

Like many other states, Minnesota classifies theft offenses according to the dollar value of the property or services taken (and sometimes according to the type of property). Let’s take a more detailed look at each level of theft under Minnesota law.

Property Valued at Less than $500

The lowest level theft offense in Minnesota -- often called petty theft -- occurs when the value of the property or services stolen is $500 or less. A person who commits theft at this level will receive a sentence of imprisonment of not more than 90 days and/or a fine of not more than $1,000. (Minn. Stat. Ann. § 609.52 Subd. 3(5).)

$500 to $1,000

If the value of the property or services is more than $500 but not more than $1,000, a theft offense is punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of not more than one year, or a fine of not more than $3,000, or both. (§ 609.52 Subd. 3(4).)

$1,000 to $5,000

When the value of the property or services stolen is more than $1,000 but not more than $5,000, a theft offense is punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of no more than five years, or a fine of not more than $10,000, or both. Theft offenses at this level also include

  • theft of a Schedule III, IV, or V controlled substance
  • theft when the value of the property or services stolen is more than $500 but not more than $1,000, and the person has a conviction of a similar offense within the preceding five years, either in Minnesota or elsewhere, or
  • the property stolen is not worth more than $1,000, and is taken from a corpse, grave, or coffin; or is a public or court record; is taken during a riot or disaster; or is a motor vehicle. or court record. (§ 609.52 Subd. 3(3).)

More than $5,000

Where the dollar value of property or services stolen is more than $5,000, the offense is punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of not more than 10 years, or a fine of not more than $20,000, or both. Theft offenses at this level also include: 

  • theft of a trade secret
  • theft of an explosive or incendiary device, or
  • theft of a Schedule I or II controlled substance, other than marijuana. (§ 609.52 Subd. 3(2).)

More than $35,000

Finally, the most serious form of theft under Minnesota law is punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of not more than 20 years, or a fine of $100,000, or both. Theft offenses at this level include:

  • theft of property or services valued at more than $35,000 when certain aggravating circumstances exist, which include fraud, deceit, or a vulnerable adult victim, or
  • theft of a firearm of any value (§ 609.52 Subd. 3(1).)

Civil Penalties for Theft in Minnesota

Besides the criminal penalties detailed above, a person who commits theft in Minnesota will be civilly liable to the owner of the property for an amount equal to the dollar value of the property at the time it was stolen (i.e. for a shoplifting offense, the retail value of the item in the store). The person is also civilly liable to the owner of the property for punitive damages in the amount of either $50, or no more than 100% of the property’s value, whichever is greater. (Minn. Stat. Ann. § 604.14.)

Effect of Prior Convictions on Current Theft Charges in Minnesota

As noted above, when a person who, within the last five years, has a conviction for any theft-related offense, after any subsequent theft of property or services valued at more than $1,000 but not more than $5,000, he or she will receive a sentence of imprisonment of not more than five years or payment of a fine of not more than $10,000, or both. This is the case whether the prior theft conviction was in Minnesota or elsewhere. (Minn. Stat. Ann. § 609.52, Subd. 3(3)(c).) For more information on how a previous conviction may affect a theft charge under Minnesota law, perform your own legal research or consult a Minnesota criminal defense attorney.

by: , J.D.

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