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One Quirk in Tennessee's Theft Laws

Tennessee theft charges are based on the dollar amount that was taken.

  • Theft of property is a misdemeanor if the value of the property is $1000.00 or less.
  • Theft of property over $1000.00 but less than $2500.00 is a Class E felony.
  • Theft of property over $2500.00 but less than $10,000.00 is a Class D felony.
  • Theft of property over 410,000.00 but less than $60,000.00 is a Class C felony.
  • Theft of property from $60,000.00 to $250,000.00 is a Class B felony.
  • Theft over $250,000.00 is a Class A felony.

The more you steal equals more punishment. Now to the little quirk. Prosecutors can aggregate thefts under Tennessee Code Annotated 39-14-105(b)(1). Here is an example. One steals a thousand dollars in a day which is a misdemeanor. Then, one steals a thousand dollars a day for a year from the same person. You just turned a misdemeanor into a Class A felony. A Class A felony carries 15-25 years in jail. A simple theft charge just turned into a nightmare.

In order to aggregate theft. the state must prove there was a common scheme, purpose, intent, or enterprise. Theft charges must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt even to the common scheme element. Prosecutors have great power to determine how to present these types of charges. I remember a line from Spiderman. "With great power comes great responsibility."