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Theft Laws in Alabama – An Overview


Under Alabama law, theft occurs when somebody takes another’s property or services without permission or authorization. A person can do this by physically taking property, or it can be done by taking lost or unaccompanied property without taking proper measures to find the owner. 

As with any crime, there are a multitude of different penalties that can follow. What sorts of penalties follow conviction of theft in Alabama can vary depending on multiple factors. In Alabama, theft charges are categorized into multiple different classifications. Depending on what classification a charge is, the penalty will change. 

Class B felonies are the most severe theft cases in Alabama and are punishable by up to 20 years in prison. 

Offense Classifications

Each offense falls under a different classification depending on the property value and the circumstances of the case. Any case of theft will be classified as a range between a class A misdemeanor or a class B felony. 

Is Theft a Felony or Misdemeanor in Alabama? 

The two main classifications of Alabama Theft of Property cases are felonies and misdemeanors. Theft of Property in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree are considered felony charges. A case is deemed a misdemeanor if it is considered Theft of Property of the 4th degree. 

Special Cases

For situations where the theft involves trademarks, trade secrets, cargo, cable, satellite reception, or gas, there are specifically outlined penalties for these thefts. Consult the Alabama code for information on these specific penalties, as they vary from the usual theft classifications. 

Fourth-Degree Theft

Fourth Degree Theft is considered a class A misdemeanor in Alabama and carries a minor penalty. If the theft involves property theft under $500, the case will likely be ruled as fourth-degree theft. 

Class A misdemeanors can carry penalties of up to a year of jail time, a fine of $6,000, or both. 

Third-Degree Theft

If the property is valued between $500 and $1,500, the offense is considered Third-Degree Theft. In addition, if a credit or debit card is the item in question, the theft is considered third-degree, regardless of the card’s actual value. 

Third-Degree Theft is a class D felony in Alabama and can carry a minimum one-year imprisonment sentence and up to five years incarceration. Fines can be up to $7,500, and in some cases, the court may enforce both penalties. 

Second-Degree Theft

If the item or service in question is valued between $1,500 and $2,500, the crime is considered a Second-Degree Theft and a Class C felony. 

If the instance involves firearms, controlled substances, or livestock, the case is automatically considered second-degree theft, regardless of the value of the items. 

Class C felonies can be charged with anywhere between a one-year and ten years’ prison sentence and a fine of up to $15,000. Again, the court may issue one or both of these penalties. 

First-degree Theft

If the property is valued at $2,500 or more, the state of Alabama considers the offense to be a First-Degree Theft and a class B felony. Any situation involving a motor vehicle of any value is automatically considered a class B felony. 

Class B felonies can come with a two-year to a twenty-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $30,000.

Further Penalties and Restitution 

Alabama law includes stipulations for repeat felony offenders. What this means is that, for every number of convictions, the penalty increases. This also holds for somebody with a prior criminal history. 

Fines or jail time will increase for each offense depending on how many past felony convictions a person has and the felony offense level for the current offense. 

Second Felony: Sentence is raised one level 

Third Felony: Minimum ten years prison for class C, 15 years for a class B, and 99 years for a class A 

Fourth Felony: Minimum 15 years for class C, 20 years for class B, and a life sentence for class A 

Class D Felony with prior convictions: If the defendant faces a class D felony, and the person has two or more class A or B felony convictions, or three or more felonies in general, the penalty increases to a class C felony. 

Because the law in Alabama dictates specific sentencing guidelines, prosecutors and judges lose some discretion in handling a case. If a court wants to deviate from sentencing guidelines, it must present a compelling reason. Typically, judges will follow the recommended guidelines. 

Talk To A Lawyer

The laws in Alabama can be complex, and understanding where a charge falls in the complicated system is difficult on your own. If you’re facing theft charges in Alabama, speak to a criminal defense attorney right away. 

Brackin Law Firm can help. We understand the criminal justice process, how to work with each District Attorney and Assistant District Attorney, city prosecutor, or judge handling your criminal case, and the possibilities prior to ever entering the courtroom. 

Our experience allows us to better inform our clients of what to expect prior to even entering the courtroom. We believe in integrity, justice, and honor. We know that going through the legal process is not easy and therefore aim to take as much off of your plate as possible. Contact us today, and let us fight for your future.

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