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How harshly does Alabama treat theft offenses?

On Behalf of | Feb 26, 2024 | Criminal Law

Like most states, Alabama takes theft seriously. Since the possible penalties range from fines to prison, understanding the law is crucial for anyone facing allegations.

Whether caught shoplifting a candy bar or accused of taking high-dollar items, knowledge is power.

What factors determine theft charges?

While the value of the stolen item plays a significant role, it is not the only consideration. Alabama courts consider several factors including the means of acquisition (how the property was obtained) and its value. 

Taking even low-value items through force, breaking and entering or deception can elevate charges. They may also be more serious if you steal something from the physical person of someone else. 

Are there different degrees of theft?

Alabama categorizes theft into four degrees based on value and means of acquisition:

  • First-degree theft is punishable by 2-20 years in prison. It arises when the property’s value exceeds $2,500; you take something directly from another; you use force, threats or deception to take the property.
  • Second-degree theft could mean up to 10 years in prison and applies when stolen property is worth between $1,500 and $2,500.
  • Third-degree theft convictions come with a possible prison term approaching five years when the property is worth $500 to $1,499.
  • As mentioned, fourth-degree theft is usually a misdemeanor punished by fines and applies when stolen property is under $500.

Importantly, stealing any motor vehicle in Alabama automatically results in first-degree theft charges, no matter its value.

While this overview of Alabama’s theft laws can help you make sense of your situation, it cannot replace hands-on guidance. You have the best odds of overcoming your circumstances with support from a criminal defense representative.