Theft Crimes

In Delaware, the definitions of the various theft crimes can be found at 11 Del.C. § 840 to 858. The greater the value of the items stolen the more serious the penalties. Theft crimes are serious matters. Once you obtain a criminal record for any theft crime, you are branded a thief on your criminal record. It will make it difficult for you to obtain employment that is contingent on a background check. Theft offenses should be defended aggressively.

Below is a brief analysis of some of the common theft crimes and their penalties that occur in Delaware.

Theft

The precise definition of the crime of theft can be found in the Delaware Criminal Code at 11 Del.C. §841. Generally, theft in Delaware is taking the property of another with the intent to deprive the owner of it.

Theft (Class A Misdemeanor) - theft is a class A misdemeanor if the property taken is valued at less than $1500. For a first offense, you may be eligible to receive probation before judgment (PBJ) to avoid a criminal conviction on your record. The presumptive sentence for a first time theft is up to 12 months of non-reporting probation if you do not get PBJ. The maximum sentence a judge could give you is up to a year in jail and a $2300 fine

Theft (Class G felony) - theft is a class G felony when the property taken is valued at $1500 or more or the victim is 62 or older or disabled. The sentencing guideline for a felony theft is up to a year probation. However, a felony theft would be on your criminal record. You should fight to keep your record clean if this is your first offense or have the charge downgraded to a misdemeanor. The maximum sentence a judge can give you for a felony theft is two years in jail. If the value is $1500 or greater and the victim is 62 or older or has a disability this crime is a class F felony.

Theft (Class D Felony) - if you take between $50,000 and $100,000, theft is a class D felony.

Theft (Class B Felony) - if you take $100,000 or greater, theft is a class B felony.

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Shoplifting

The exact definition of shoplifting can be found in the Delaware Criminal Code at 11 Del.C. §840. Generally, you are guilty of shoplifting in Delaware if you take merchandise from a store or conceal merchandise from a store. If you conceal merchandise there is a presumption in Delaware and other jurisdictions that you are going to steal the merchandise. For this reason, I advise my own family to keep their selected items in a cart or basket and advise against placing items under clothing or in a baby stroller.

Shoplifters are usually caught by video security cameras that are monitored by loss prevention officers. Loss prevention officers are private security officers that work for the store. They monitor these cameras and do have the right to detain you if they have probable cause to believe you shoplifted.

Shoplifting (Class A Misdemeanor) - shoplifting is a class A misdemeanor when the value of the merchandise taken or concealed is less than $1500. The sentencing guidelines call for up to a year of non-reporting probation for a first offense. The maximum penalty by law is up to a year in jail and a $2300 fine. If this is your first offense you should not ruin your lack of criminal record and plead guilty. You should look to get the charge dismissed or diversionary program like probation before judgment.

Shoplifting (Class G Felony) - shoplifting is a class G felony when the value of the items taken was $1500 or greater or the items were taken from three separate establishments. The sentencing guideline calls for a presumptive sentence of up to a year on probation. The maximum sentence the judge can hand down by law is up to two years in jail. If this is your first offense, you should look to fight the charge, obtain some type of diversion program or plead the case down to a misdemeanor. A felony theft offense on your criminal record will be devastating employment purposes.

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Unlawful Use of Credit Card

The definition of Unlawful Use of a Credit Card can be found at 11 Del.C. §903. If you use or permit someone else to use a credit card knowing that the card is stolen, forged, or fictitious you are guilty of Unlawful Use of Credit Card. This crime is a class A misdemeanor unless the value is $1500 or more or the victim is 62 or older, then the crime is a class G felony. With no prior record, if convicted of a felony, the sentencing guideline calls for up to a year probation. The maximum sentence by law is up to two years in jail.

My office is prepared to handle all theft crimes that occur in the State of Delaware including:

  • Theft of Lost or Mislaid Property (§842)
  • Theft by False Pretense (§843)
  • Theft by False Promise (§844)
  • Theft of Services (§845)
  • Misapplication of Property (§848)
  • Theft of Rented Property (§848)
  • Possession of a Device for Unlawfully Taking Tele-Communication Services (§850)
  • Receiving Stolen Property (§851)
  • Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle (§853)
  • Identity Theft (§854)
  • Forgery(§861 to §863)

Contact my office at (302) 482-4802 for a confidential consultation. Your criminal record and reputation are at stake and a legal consultation is needed. You may be able to avoid the consequences of a theft conviction. My office does not charge a fee for an initial consultation on a theft crime.

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