Like many states, Nebraska theft laws prohibit a wide range of conduct, including stealing, theft by deception or extortion, theft of services, receiving stolen property, and shoplifting.
Nebraska law provides the same penalties for the following types of theft.
Theft by unlawful taking. Taking someone else's property without their permission and with the intent to deprive them of it.
Theft by deception. Obtaining someone else's property through deceit or trickery.
Theft by extortion. Obtaining another's property, money, or other things of value by the threat of bodily harm, criminal accusation, or legal or reputational harm.
Theft of services. Obtaining services, which are only available for compensation, and then not paying for them. Services include such things as labor, accommodations in hotels and restaurants, professional services, telephone or cable providers, and admission to exhibitions.
Theft by receiving stolen property. Receiving, retaining, or disposing of property one knows to be stolen from someone else.
(Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 28-509 and following (2020).)
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 penalties under Nebraska law.
Theft constitutes a Class II misdemeanor in Nebraska when the value of the stolen property or services is $500 or less. This is the lowest-level theft offense under Nebraska law. A person who commits a Class II misdemeanor theft faces up to six months in jail and a fine of $1,000.
A person commits a Class I misdemeanor theft when the value of the stolen property or services involved is more than $500 but less than $1,500. In such a case, the offender is subject to up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Also, a second conviction for a Class II misdemeanor theft (involving $500 or less) bumps the offense up to a Class I misdemeanor theft.
Theft constitutes a Class IV felony in Nebraska when the value of the stolen property or services is at least $1,500 but less than $5,000. Under Nebraska law, a Class IV felony is punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine of no more than $10,000.
The law also provides Class IV felony penalties for:
Theft constitutes a Class IIA felony in Nebraska when the value of the property or services involved is $5,000 or more. A person convicted of a Class IIA felony faces up to 20 years in prison.
Nebraska imposes stiff penalties for repeat felony offenders. A person convicted of a third felony faces a mandatory prison sentence of ten to 60 years' incarceration.
(Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 28-105, -106, -518; 29-2221 (2020).)
Shoplifting crimes carry the penalties described above based on the value of the goods stolen. The definition of shoplifting goes beyond hiding an item under a bulky coat. A person commits theft by shoplifting when, without paying for the goods or merchandise, the person does any of the following:
Unlike many states, Nebraska no longer provides civil penalties specific to shoplifting. Instead, merchants may sue an offender in civil court for any actual property damage or loss sustained as a direct result of the incident, or they can request restitution (compensation) in the criminal matter.
(Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 28-511, 29-2280 (2020).)
If you have been charged with a theft-related offense in Nebraska, contact a local attorney as soon as possible. Theft convictions can have negative consequences on future housing, employment, and financial transactions. Speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney and learn about your options.