Defining Theft Under Oklahoma Law
Oklahoma law defines larceny, or theft, as “the taking of personal property accomplished by fraud or stealth, and with intent to deprive another thereof.” (Okla. Stat. Ann. § 21-1701.) Basically, that means theft is committed any time an offender wrongfully takes someone else’s property while having no intention to return it.
Classification of Theft Offense and Penalties in Oklahoma
Oklahoma categorizes most larceny offenses based on the value of the property stolen and/or the circumstances surrounding the offense. Let’s start by taking a closer look at the different levels of larceny or theft under Oklahoma law, starting with petit larceny (or petty theft).
Petit Larceny or Theft. The lowest-level theft offense in Oklahoma is referred to as "petit larceny," or petty theft, which is charged when the property stolen has a value of less than $500. (Okla. Stat. Ann. § 21-1704.) Petit larceny in Oklahoma is punishable by a fine of $10 to $500, or imprisonment in the county jail for no more than six months. (§ 21-1706.)
Grand Larceny or Theft. Grand larceny in Oklahoma occurs when one of the following circumstances exists:
- the property taken is of a value that exceeds $500, or
- property of any value is taken directly from the person of another. (§ 21-1704.)
Oklahoma larceny statutes provide a number of specific classifications and punishments for theft involving certain types of property, such as motor vehicles, farm equipment, livestock, and other domestic animals. However, the specifics of those statutes are too numerous to list here. Refer to Oklahoma Statutes Annotated starting at § 21-1701 for details.
In Oklahoma, grand larceny is a felony punishable by:
- imprisonment in county jail for a term not to exceed one year, if the value of the property is $500 or less
- imprisonment in the State Penitentiary for a term ranging from one year to five years, if the value of the property is $500 or more
- a fine of not more than $5,000, and
- an order of payment of restitution (reimbursement to the victim for any losses associated with the offense). (§ 21-1705.)
Civil Penalties for Theft in Oklahoma
In addition to criminal penalties, a person who commits shoplifting in Oklahoma (or the parent or legal guardian of a minor who commits shoplifting) may be civilly liable to the store owner for:
- the retail price of the merchandise (if it is no longer sellable), or the percentage of the diminished value of the merchandise
- the store owner’s attorney fees and court costs in bringing the civil case, and
- exemplary or punitive damages (like a civil fine meant to discourage or deter shoplifting).
Additionally, instead of paying exemplary or punitive damages, the offender may be ordered to perform community service. (§ 21-1731.1.)
Effect of Prior Theft-Related Convictions in Oklahoma
Oklahoma shoplifting statutes dictate different penalties for first and subsequent shoplifting offenses. When a person steals merchandise valued at $500 or less, and the person has no prior convictions for shoplifting in Oklahoma, the punishment is confinement in county jail for up to 30 days, and a fine ranging from a minimum of $10 to a maximum of $500. The minimum fine for a first offense increases to $50 if the shoplifting offense involved more than one item.
If the offender has a prior conviction for shoplifting, the punishment is confinement in county jail for a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of one year, and a fine of no more than $1,000. If the offender has two or more prior convictions for shoplifting, regardless of the value of the merchandise involved in the prior offenses, the punishment is imprisonment in the State Penitentiary for minimum of two years and a maximum of five years.
In order to get more information about how prior larceny convictions will impact a subsequent larceny-related offense in Oklahoma, you should conduct additional legal research or contact an Oklahoma criminal defense attorney.