In Iowa, there are five (5) levels of theft a person can be charged. The five levels are first degree theft, second degree theft, third degree theft, fourth degree theft, and fifth degree theft. I get the client who sometimes tells me "a theft is a theft, why are there different levels?" My response to that is that our legislature says that there should be different levels and therefore, different penalties. Each level of theft requires the element of theft, or property taken from another person or business. The different element of each level of theft is the value of the property taken from the other person or business. Listed below are the values for each level of theft.
First Degree Theft: Value of property taken totals over $10,000.00
Second Degree Theft: Value of property taken totals between $1,000.00 and $10,000.00
Third Degree Theft: Value of property taken totals between $500.00 and $1,000.00
Fourth Degree Theft: Value of property taken totals between $200.00 and $500.00
Fifth Degree Theft: Value of property taken totals between $0.01 and $200.00
Our legislature believes that the value of the property taken is very important in determining the punishment, or sentence, for a defendant convicted of theft. I definitely understand our legislature's position on this matter because it is much worse for a victim of a crime to have their car stolen compared to a notebook or $20.00 in cash. It should also be noted that the First Degree Theft and Second Degree Theft are felonies here in Iowa, while the other three levels are considered misdemeanors (these levels of theft are each different level misdemeanors).
There is no dispute that a felony is much worse than a misdemeanor, but it needs be mentioned that misdemeanor thefts are not to be taken lightly in Iowa. People call me all the time wanting to have their theft conviction expunged, or wiped, off of their criminal record. They call me because they cannot get a job with the theft conviction on their record. This is almost always not possible when the person has already been convicted of theft. The only way to have the theft charge wiped off of your record is to prepare and to make the proper requests during sentencing. And even so, there is no guarantee that the theft charge will be dismissed or wiped off of your record.
In any event if you are charged with theft of any level, do not hesitate to contact the Feld Law Firm. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have or schedule a free consultation to meet with you and thoroughly discuss your case. The Feld Law Firm is located at 1200 Valley West Drive, Ste. 208 in West Des Moines, Iowa.