Minnesota's theft statute covers a wide variety of actions. At its most basic, theft means deliberately taking the property of another person, intending to permanently deprive him or her of it.
The property in question could be anything from a physical object to electronic transfers. In addition, Minnesota law specifically includes some other actions in the category of theft.
Types of actions classified as theft
If you find an item and do not make reasonable efforts to return it, you may face theft charges even though you did not separate the item from its owner. Reasonable efforts tend to vary based on the type of item, its value and identifying information available.
Other types of theft include obtaining property from another person by misrepresentation, failing to return rental items (such as books or movies), filing a false medical claim and driving a motor vehicle without getting permission. Some of these actions, such as filing a false medical claim, may trigger additional state and/or federal charges.
In most theft cases, the penalties vary depending on the value and type of the stolen property. Stealing property valued at less than $500 counts as a petty theft misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. At the top of the range for theft offenses, theft of property valued at over $35,000 can entail a penalty of a fine up to $100,000 and/or up to 20 years in jail. This category also includes stealing a firearm, no matter its value. Whichever category a theft falls into, a defendant may also have to repay the owner for the value of what he or she stole.
Even conviction for the lowest tier of theft crimes can entail penalties most people would find burdensome. Ending up in jail even for a few days could seriously disrupt your life and affect employment.
In addition to legal penalties, a conviction can continue to affect your prospects for a long time. With a criminal record, you may encounter problems finding employment, qualifying for scholarships or locating housing. If you work or plan to work in a licensed profession such as nursing, even a petty theft misdemeanor can result in suspension and even revocation.