Under Utah law, a person commits theft by gaining unauthorized control over the property or services of another with the intent to deprive the owner of their property or compensation for services. A person can gain unauthorized control over another's property or services in multiple ways, such as:
As you can see from the various types of theft described above, theft involves more than just stealing personal property and money. The definition of property broadly covers anything of value, including services.
Property includes personal property, real estate, trade secrets, and titles or certificates representing rights to property, labor, or services, among other things of value.
Services refer to labor, professional services, public utilities, transportation services, restaurant services, accommodations (such as hotels), rental use of equipment, tools, or vehicles, and admission tickets or event charges.
To be considered theft, the defendant must have the intent to deprive an owner of their property. This intent goes beyond intending to keep the property for oneself and instead focuses on the owner's loss. A person deprives another of their property by withholding property for an extended period of time, demanding compensation for return of the property, or disposing the property somewhere it's unlikely to be recovered. For example, a person who steals someone's vehicle intending to keep it or strip it for parts commits theft, as does the person who steals the car and abandons it in a shed in another part of the country.
(Utah Code §§ 76-6-401, -404 to -409 (2022).)
As is the case in many states, Utah classifies its theft offenses primarily according to the value of the property or services involved in the offense. Misdemeanor theft generally involves property or services stolen that are valued at less than $1,500.
An offender commits a class B misdemeanor theft if the value of the property or services stolen is less than $500 and no other special circumstances apply. Certain circumstances, such as repeat offenses, can result in harsher penalties. Class B misdemeanors carry up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Class A misdemeanor thefts cover a couple of different scenarios:
The punishment for these offenses includes up to 364 days in jail and a $2,500 fine.
The monetary threshold for felony theft in Utah is $1,500. Stealing property or services valued at or above $1,500 results in felony penalties. However, having prior theft convictions can also push up penalties to a felony when the value is lower than $1,500. A few theft offenses are categorized as felonies according to the type of property taken, regardless of value.
Theft constitutes a third-degree felony theft in the following manner:
A person who commits a third-degree felony theft faces up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Theft becomes a second-degree felony in Utah when:
A conviction for a second-degree felony theft subjects the guilty party to at least one and up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
(Utah Code §§ 76-3-203, -204, -301; 76-6-412 (2022).)
Like many states, Utah's shoplifting laws allow for both criminal and civil penalties.
A person commits shoplifting by doing any of the following with the intent to deprive the merchant of their merchandise or its full retail value:
The criminal penalties for shoplifting are based on the value of the stolen merchandise. Check out the above penalties and their monetary thresholds. Enhanced penalties may apply if a person commits repeat shoplifting offenses at the same store within a five-year period.
It's also considered retail theft to use or possess a theft detection shielding device or device remover in order to avoid setting off an alarm. Crimes involving theft detection shielding devices mostly constitute class A misdemeanors. However, if a person intentionally removes a theft detection device from merchandise valued at less than $500, the act qualifies as a class B misdemeanor.
In addition to criminal penalties, an adult who commits shoplifting in Utah can be civilly liable to the store owner for:
When the shoplifter is a minor, the minor and their parent or legal guardian are responsible for similar damages, penalties, and costs (although the penalties are reduced).
(Utah Code §§ 76-6-602, -608; 78B-3-108 (2022).)
If you have been arrested for or charged with theft, receiving stolen property, shoplifting, or a related offense, call an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area. A qualified lawyer can describe local court procedures and analyze the particular set of facts in your case.