North Dakota Petty Theft and Other Theft Laws

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Theft Defined Under North Dakota Law

Under North Dakota law, a person has committed the offense of theft by:

  • knowingly taking or exercising unauthorized control over the property of another, with the intent to deprive the owner of that property (i.e. shoplifting)
  • knowingly obtaining property of another by deception or by threat, with the intent to deprive the owner of that property (i.e. extortion or fraud), or
  • knowingly receiving or disposing of stolen property of another, with the intent to deprive the owner of that property. (N.D. Cent. Code § 12.1-23-02.)

Classification of Theft Offenses and Penalties in N.D.

Like most states, North Dakota classifies its theft offenses according to the value of the property or services stolen. Theft can constitute a misdemeanor if the property or services is worth less than $500, and a felony if the property or services is worth more than $500 (or if the theft involves a certain type of property).

Let’s take a closer look at each level of theft under North Dakota law.

Class B Misdemeanor Theft. Theft is a class B misdemeanor in North Dakota if the value of the property or services stolen does not exceed $250, assuming that no other special circumstances apply. Certain circumstances can lead to a class B misdemeanor theft being charged as a class A misdemeanor, or even as a felony under North Dakota law (more on this below). (N.D. Cent. Code § 12.1-23-05(4).)

The punishment for a class B misdemeanor in North Dakota is a sentence of imprisonment of no more than 30 days, a fine of no more than $1,000, or both. (§ 12.1-32-01(6).)

Class A Misdemeanor Theft. Theft is considered a class A misdemeanor in North Dakota if:

  • the value of the property or services stolen is more than $250 but not more than $500
  • the theft was committed through deception in a confidential or fiduciary relationship (i.e. fraud), or
  • the offender is a public servant, or officer or employee of a financial institution, and the theft was committed in the course of the offender's official duties (i.e. embezzlement). (§ 12.1-23-05(3),(4).)

The punishment for a class A misdemeanor in North Dakota includes a maximum jail sentence of one year, a fine of no more than $2,000, or both. (§ 12.1-32-01(5).)

Class C Felony Theft. Theft is a class C felony under North Dakota law if:

  • the value of the property or services stolen is more than $500
  • the property is a firearm, ammunition, or explosive
  • the property is a motor vehicle,
  • the property is a government record, banking instrument, or credit/debit card
  • the property is livestock, or
  • the property is a prescription drug. (§ 12.1-23-05(2).)

The punishment for a class C felony under North Dakota law includes a sentence of imprisonment of no more than five years, a fine of no more than $5,000, or both. (§ 12.1-32-01(4).)

Class B Felony Theft. Theft is a class B felony in North Dakota when:

  • the value of the property or services stolen exceeds $10,000, or
  • the property is taken through threat of serious physical violence or threat to commit a felony (i.e. extortion). (§ 12.1-23-05(1).)

The punishment for a class B felony in North Dakota is imprisonment for no more than 10 years, a fine of no more than $10,000, or both. (§ 12.1-32-01(3).)

Civil Liability for Theft in North Dakota

In addition to criminal penalties, a person who commits shoplifting in North Dakota, or the parent or legal guardian of a minor who commits shoplifting, is civilly liable to the store owner for the following damages:

  • the retail value of the merchandise
  • payment of extra damages of not more than $250
  • payment of the store owner's costs of bringing the civil action, and
  • payment of the store owner's reasonable attorney's fees. (N.D. Cent. Code § 51-21-05.)

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