Columbus, OH Theft Crime Attorney
Under Ohio law, stealing and attempting to steal anything are defined broadly as theft. The overall crime of theft includes specific offenses defined as fraud, burglary, robbery, safe-cracking, computer hacking, and trespassing. Each of those subcategories is further codified by degree of harm, value of property, victim identity, and perpetrator identity, as well as other factors. What all this means, at the most basic level, is that if you stand accused of theft in Columbus, OH, or anywhere else in the Buckeye State, you need a knowledgeable and experienced defense lawyer from Leist Warner.
Theft and Fraud Offenses
Chapter 2913 of the Ohio Revised Code (O.R.C.) spends dozens of pages defining exactly what actions constitute the offenses of theft and fraud. Summarizing the entire statute would be difficult, but it is essential to know these three things:
- Just trying to take someone else’s money, possessions, identity, information, or wages without succeeding in doing so can result in getting charged with theft.
- Individuals, employers, service providers, and corporations can all be charged and convicted for theft and fraud.
- Lying rises to the level of fraud when the intent is to deprive a person or company of money, property, or information.
Some of the actions singled out for mention in Chapter 2913 include pirating movies, not paying for hotel rooms and rental cars, using someone else’s identity and credit cards, and misrepresenting injuries, disabilities, or financial need to secure government benefits.
Robbery and Burglary Offenses
Generally, under O.R.C. Chapter 2911, robbery involves taking something of value by force or threat. Burglary involves trespassing–entering a building or yard without permission–with the intent to steal. These crimes get classified as aggravated when the person charged used a weapon or physically injured the victim.
Breaking and entering, as the term implies, represents a specific type of burglary in which nothing needs to be stolen in order to draw a theft charge. Trying to break into a safe and tampering with coin boxes or card readers on vending machines and parking meters also count as forms of theft or attempted theft in Ohio.
Possible Penalties for Theft Include Lengthy Jail Terms
Ohio police and prosecutors treat theft as petty, felony, or aggravated. When the offense does not involve injury or threat, and the items total a value of $1,000 or less, a conviction for petty theft can result in a six-month jail term and a fine of up to $1,000. Court orders to make restitution to victims can follow from all types of convictions.
Any aggravated theft gets prosecuted as a felony, with dollar values determining the severity of the consequences from a conviction. A fifth-degree felony for theft of items worth between $1,000 and $7,500 can bring 12 months in jail and a $2,500 criminal fine. A first-degree felony conviction for stealing things with a total value of $1.5 million or more can result in an 11-year prison term and maximum fines of $20,000.
Unauthorized credit card use, writing or cashing bad checks, and stealing state-issued license plates or vehicle registrations also count as felonies automatically.
Contact a Theft Defense Attorney
Many facts concerning an alleged theft can be in dispute. Was an item actually stolen, or did the original owner loan it out or present it as a gift? Did trespassing actually occur in the course of a suspected burglary? What is the actual value of the items in dispute? If access to computerized data is the issue, was the accused person authorized to view the information and was the information actually misused?
Those few questions do not even begin to point to kinds of detailed and definitive evidence that must be collected, examined, and presented during a theft investigation and trial. If someone has accused you of stealing something or committing fraud, contact a defense lawyer with Leist Warner online or by calling (614) 222-1000. We offer no-cost case consultations, and we always fight to protect our clients.