Nebraska Petty Theft and Other Theft Laws

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Defining Theft Under Nebraska Law

A person commits theft under Nebraska law by: 

  • taking or exercising control over the movable property of another, with the intent to deprive the owner of the property, or
  • transferring immovable property of another -- or any interest in that property -- with the intent to benefit a person who is not entitled to the property. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 28-511.

Nebraska criminal statutes also identify a number of more specific theft offenses, including:

  • failing to return rented or leased property at the end of a lease or rental agreement (§ 28-511)
  • motorized vehicle theft (§ 28-511)
  • using a fraudulent or stolen credit card to lease or rent a vehicle (§ 28-511)
  • theft by shoplifting (§ 28-511.01)
  • theft by deception (§ 28-512)
  • theft by extortion (§ 28-513)
  • theft of lost property, or property that has been delivered by mistake (§ 28-514)
  • theft of services (§ 28-515)
  • theft of telecommunications service (§ 28-515.01), and
  • theft by receiving stolen property (§ 28-517).

Classification of Theft Offenses and Penalties in Nebraska

Like many other states, Nebraska classifies most theft crimes based on the dollar value of the property involved. Let’s take a closer look at the different levels of theft under Nebraska law.

Class II Misdemeanor Theft.

Theft constitutes a Class II misdemeanor in Nebraska when the value of the property stolen is $200 or less. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 28-518(4). This is the lowest-level theft offense under Nebraska law (sometimes called "petty theft").

Theft of telecommunications devices is an example of a more specific theft crime that qualifies as a Class II misdemeanor in Nebraska. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 28-515.01.

A second conviction for theft at this level will bump the offense up to a Class I misdemeanor, and for a third or subsequent theft conviction at this level, the offender will be guilty of a Class IV felony. § 28-518(6). More on these classifications below.

In Nebraska, a Class II misdemeanor is punishable by no more than six months imprisonment or a fine of no more than $1,000, or both. § 28-106. There is no minimum term of imprisonment for a Class II misdemeanor under Nebraska law, and any sentence of imprisonment must be served at a county jail.

Class I Misdemeanor Theft.

Theft constitutes a Class I misdemeanor in Nebraska when the value of the property involved is more than $200 but less than $500, or when the offender has one prior conviction for the theft of property valued at less than $200. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 28-518(4).

After a second or subsequent conviction of theft at this level, the offender will be guilty of a Class IV felony. § 28-518(5).

In Nebraska, a Class I misdemeanor is punishable by no more than one year of imprisonment or a fine of no more than $1,000, or both. § 28-106. There is no minimum term of imprisonment for a Class I misdemeanor under Nebraska law, and any sentence of imprisonment must be served at a county jail.

Class IV Felony Theft.

Theft constitutes a Class IV felony in Nebraska when the value of the property stolen is at least $500, but not more than $1,500; and:

  • when it is a third or subsequent conviction for the theft of property valued at less than $200, or
  • when it is a second or subsequent conviction for the theft of property valued at between $200 and $500. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 28-518(2)

Under Nebraska law, a Class IV felony is punishable by a term of imprisonment of no more than five years or a fine of no more than $10,000, or both. § 28-105. There is no minimum term of imprisonment for a Class IV felony. A sentence of incarceration for a Class IV felony must be served in an institution under the jurisdiction of the Department of Correctional Services if longer than one year, or in a county jail if less than one year.

Class III Felony Theft.

Theft constitutes a Class III felony in Nebraska when the value of the property involved is more than $1,500. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 28-518(1).

In Nebraska, a Class III felony is punishable by imprisonment for a minimum term of one year and a maximum term of 20 years, or a fine of up to $25,000, or both. § 28-105. A sentence of incarceration for a Class III felony under Nebraska law must be served in an institution under the jurisdiction of the Department of Correctional Services.

Civil Penalties for Theft Under Nebraska Law

In addition to criminal penalties, any person who commits shoplifting in Nebraska may be civilly liable to the store owner for any actual property damage or loss sustained as a direct result of the incident. That means the offender may be on the hook for:

  • the full retail value of the goods stolen
  • the cost of repair or replacement of the merchandise
  • court costs, and
  • reasonable attorney’s fees. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-21,194.

The parent or legal guardian of a minor who commits shoplifting also may be civilly liable to the property owner -- for the amounts detailed above -- so long as the child is under the age of 17 and living with the parent or legal guardian at the time of the shoplifting offense.

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