Kansas Laws on Misdemeanor and Felony Theft

Theft charges can quickly add up to a felony in Kansas. Learn how Kansas classifies and punishes theft offenses.

In Kansas, the crime of theft covers a broad range of acts generally referred to as larceny, theft by deception, shoplifting, embezzlement, extortion, and receiving stolen property.

Defining Theft in Kansas

The law defines theft as doing any of the following, with the intent of permanently depriving an owner of the possession, use, or benefit of his or her property or services:

  • obtaining or exercising unauthorized control over the property or services
  • obtaining control over property or services by deception or threat, or
  • obtaining control over stolen property or services knowing them to be stolen.

Examples of Theft

When we think of theft, it's usually someone stealing a wallet, purse, or car. But the above definition of theft is much broader. It includes acts such as embezzling money from a company, tricking someone into wiring funds, accepting stolen goods, splicing cable from a neighbor, misappropriating funds from an elderly parent's bank account, or threatening not to return someone's property without compensation.

Also, the term "property" isn't limited to tangible, personal property (like the wallet example) but rather includes "anything of value, tangible or intangible, real or personal." An example of intangible real property would be title or interest in land or a house. Intangible personal property could include title to stock or rights to collect on an insurance policy.

(Kan. Stat. §§ 21-5111, 21-5801 (2020).)

Classification and Punishment for Theft in Kansas

Like many states, Kansas classifies its theft offenses according to the dollar value of the property or services involved in the offense—the greater the value of the property or services, the more severe the criminal charge and resulting punishment.

Kansas uses a sentencing grid for felony offenses. The grid provides a sentencing range based on the severity level of the offense and the offender's criminal history. Misdemeanors have a maximum penalty set in statute. In addition to possible incarceration and a fine, a person convicted of theft will typically be on the hook for restitution (compensation to the victim). Theft is a nonperson offense.

Class A Misdemeanor

A person who steals property or services worth less than $1,500 faces a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in county jail and up to a $2,500 fine.

Severity Level 9 Felony

It's considered a severity level 9 felony to:

  • steal property or services valued between $1,500 and $25,000
  • steal property or services valued between $50 and $1,500, having two or more prior theft convictions in the past five years, or
  • steal a firearm (worth less than $25,000).

The penalty for a severity level 9 felony ranges from five to 17 months' imprisonment and carries a fine up to $100,000.

Severity Level 7 Felony

A person commits a severity level 7 felony by stealing property or services valued between $25,000 and $100,000.

Severity level 7 felonies carry a sentencing range of 11 to 34 months' imprisonment and a fine up to $100,000.

Severity Level 5 Felony

When a theft involves property or services valued at $100,000 or more, the crime is considered a severity level 5 felony in Kansas.

The penalty for a severity level 5 felony ranges from 31 to 136 months' (just over 11 years) prison time and carries a fine up to $300,000.

(Kan. Stat. §§ 21-5801, 21-6602, 21-6604, 21-6611 (2020).)

Shoplifting in Kansas

Similar to most states, a person who shoplifts can face civil and criminal penalties in Kansas.

Criminal Penalties

Shoplifting offenses fall under the general theft law, with penalties based on the value of the merchandise stolen.

For practical purposes, a one-time shoplifter will likely face a class A misdemeanor, as long as the stolen property is worth less than $1,500. But, for a repeat offender or shoplifting offense that involves pricier items, multiple stores, or the use of coated bags, alarm removers, or fraudulent receipts or labels, the penalty bumps up to a severity level 9 felony. (Kan. Stat. § 21-5805 (2020).)

Civil Penalties

In addition to possible criminal penalties, a shoplifter can be held civilly liable to the store owner for the following:

  • if the merchandise is not returned in a sellable condition, a civil penalty equal to twice the retail cost or $50, whichever is greater, up to a maximum of $500
  • if the merchandise is returned in a sellable condition, a civil penalty of $50 or 50% of the retail cost, whichever is greater, up to a maximum of $350 (the maximum is $50 if the offender is a minor), and
  • the store owner's reasonable attorneys' fees and costs (unless the case stays in small claims court).

If the shoplifter is a minor, the minor's parents are liable for any civil penalties.

(Kan. Stat. § 60-3331 (2020).)

Talk to a Lawyer

If you're facing criminal charges for theft, contact a local criminal defense attorney. An attorney can help you understand your rights and the consequences of a theft conviction. Even a conviction for misdemeanor theft can have long-lasting consequences. A criminal record will likely enhance any future sentencing decisions and can make it difficult to obtain a job or housing.

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