What Is the Difference Between Felony and Misdemeanor Theft?

Theft is a very common crime, with most cases involving something small or of lower monetary value taken from a store. Sometimes, theft can be accidental, such as when someone walks out with an item in their cart that they neglected to scan in the self-checkout lane.

The penalties for theft vary by the severity of the crime. Here are some of the factors that differentiate felony and misdemeanor theft in Illinois.

Misdemeanor theft

Misdemeanor theft involves stolen property with a value of less than $500, and the property should not come directly from a person, a place of worship or a school. People accused of misdemeanor theft generally have to pay a fine or spend a small amount of time in jail.

Felony theft

There are a greater number of circumstances that qualify an act of theft as a felony rather than a misdemeanor. Felony theft falls into several categories, some of which include:

  • Class 4, which involves items stolen from a church or school, items that belong to the government or an act committed by someone previously accused of theft
  • Class 2, which involves stolen items between the amounts of $500 and $10,000
  • Class X, which includes goods taken with a total value exceeding $1 million

Generally, the class of theft is higher for lower amounts of money if the crime occurred at a school or place of worship.

After an accusation of theft, knowing whether the crime falls into the category of a misdemeanor or felony can help the accused prepare for what to do next.