In Hawaii, theft constitutes a broad range of conduct—from stealing jewelry to embezzling cash, splicing television cable lines, blackmailing someone for the return of their property, or defrauding someone out of money or services. This article breaks down the definition of, and penalties for, theft.
Hawaii, like several other states, has consolidated many of its theft-related offenses under one general theft statute. The general theft statute covers conduct such as larceny, embezzlement, cheating, extortion, blackmail, and false pretenses.
Under the law, a person commits theft by engaging in any of the following conduct intending to deprive another of their property or services temporarily or permanently:
(Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 708-800, -830, -833.5 (2020).)
Hawaii consolidated many but not all of its theft-related offenses. Here are some of the stand-alone theft statutes that remain:
(Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 708-835.4 to -839.8 (2020).)
If you have a question on a specific theft offense, be sure to consult the Hawaii Statutes or an attorney.
Fourth-degree (or petty) theft involves theft of property or services worth $250 or less. A person who is convicted of petty theft commits a petty misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days' jail time and a $1,000 fine.
If a value of the property or services stolen is more than $250 but doesn't exceed $750, the person commits third-degree theft. It's also third-degree theft to steal up to $750 worth of gasoline, diesel fuel, or related products used to run motors.
Theft in the third degree is a misdemeanor in Hawaii, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.
A person commits second-degree theft by stealing:
Agricultural products, commodities, equipment, and supplies refer to the production of flowers, plants, fruits, vegetables, seafood, trees, nuts, coffee, and seafood. Aquacultural products include products used to raise, maintain, or produce fish, shellfish, and other aquatic plants and species.
Second-degree theft constitutes a class C felony under Hawaii law. A person convicted of a class C felony faces up to five years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. For a first offense involving stealing aquacultural products or agricultural equipment, supplies, or products, the court can order the defendant to pay a minimum fine of $1,000 or two times the victim's damages, whichever is greater.
First-degree theft is the highest theft offense level and applies to thefts of:
A person convicted of first-degree theft commits a class B felony. A class B felony carries up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
(Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 708-830.5 to -833 (2020).)
Hawaii's law authorizes several enhanced penalties, including minimum incarceration terms and minimum fines, for various theft offenses.
A person who commits first- or second-degree theft involving receiving stolen property must pay a fine that is the greater of:
(Haw. Rev. Stat. § 706-640 (2020).)
Hawaii's law also provides an enhanced penalty for anyone who commits repeat property crimes. Property crimes include theft, burglary, criminal trespass, robbery, property damage, computer crimes, arson, business fraud, and credit card fraud.
A repeat property offender means anyone who, within 10 years of their current property offense, has at least two or three property crime convictions. (The number of prior convictions depends on the offense level—petty misdemeanor, misdemeanor, or felony.)
A repeat property offender faces a class C felony penalty, punishable by one to five years' imprisonment. For a first conviction under this section, the judge can place the person on probation, but the person must serve a minimum incarceration term of one year.
(Haw. Rev. Stat. § 708-803 (2020).)
Repeat felonies. A person who commits a second or subsequent felony offense for any class B felony (such as first-degree theft) and certain class C felonies (such as second-degree theft) faces a minimum prison sentence. The amount of time a person must spend in prison depends on the severity and number of prior convictions.
Repeat misdemeanors. Also, a person who commits a misdemeanor theft or shoplifting offense must spend at least nine months in jail if they have three prior misdemeanor convictions for certain assaults, threats, criminal damage to property, theft, or shoplifting.
(Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 706-606.5 (2020).)
Under Hawaii law, there are several defenses to prosecution for theft, including if it can be shown that at the time of the offense:
If the owner of the property was the person's spouse, it's also a defense that the property constituted "household belongings" and that the two parties were living together at the time of the alleged offense. The term "household belongings" generally refers to items such as furniture, personal effects, vehicles, or money. (Haw. Rev. Stat. § 708-834 (2020).)
A person who shoplifts merchandise from a retail store can face criminal and civil penalties under Hawaiian law.
Hawaii includes shoplifting as one of the general theft offenses. A person commits shoplifting by doing any of the following with intent to defraud the store owner:
For a shoplifting offense, the person doesn't need to complete the crime to be convicted. A person who shoves a purse in their coat but gets caught before leaving the store still commits shoplifting. It's also shoplifting to change the price tags on an item in an attempt to purchase it for a lower price.
Any person who shoplifts faces the penalties for theft (listed above) based on the value of the merchandise stolen. In addition, a shoplifter must pay a minimum fine.
For repeat shoplifting offenses, the minimum fine doubles.
(Haw. Rev. Stat. § 708-833.5 (2020).)
A person who commits shoplifting is also civilly liable to the store owner for the following:
(Haw. Rev. Stat. § 663A-2 (2020).)
If you're facing criminal charges for theft, speak with a criminal defense attorney right away. A defense attorney can help you navigate the criminal justice system, protect your rights, and evaluate possible defenses. You might also want to speak to an attorney who practices in civil court if you've been sued by a store owner for shoplifting.