When most people think of theft, the first thing that comes to mind is stealing for personal gain. This could be anything from phones or jewelry to cars. While this type of theft exists, a less common type of theft is that committed by people with kleptomania.
Why People Commit Theft
We know theft is the action of stealing. There are several reasons why people may steal. Sometimes, people steal to support a drug habit or because they are in financial need. Others do it for the thrill of taking something that does not belong to them. Some have an addiction to stealing (aka kleptomania).
Kleptomania is characterized by the urge to steal, even when one does not need or want the stolen item. Kleptomania is considered an impulse control disorder. People with this condition often feel a sense of relief or satisfaction after they have stolen something. In some cases, people with kleptomania may be aware stealing is wrong or harmful but cannot control their urges. Kleptomania is a clinical (not legal) definition.
This is the most benign of theft accusations - forgetting to scan an item in the grocery lane or accidentally walking out of a store without paying for an item. Theft requires ‘intent’, but it may take work to show the prosecution (or jury or judge) that taking an item was accidental and not an excuse.
Often addiction, unemployment, underemployment, or hardship lead to theft. When theft originates with need, the key is to address underlying causes. Our regular statement to clients is, “If it is good for you, it is good for your case.” For some, that means treatment, employment, counseling, or other positive steps. As your counsel, it is our job to show how our clients’ positive steps reduce the likelihood of future charges.
Iowa Penalties for Theft
In Iowa, consequences vary depending on the value of items taken. All levels of theft may come with restitution and court costs. All levels of theft may have probation sentences with conditions.
Simple Misdemeanor Theft
If the stolen property is valued under $300, the charge is usually Theft 5th degree. Such a conviction can result in up to 30 days in jail and a fine from $65-$625.
Serious Misdemeanor Theft
If the stolen property is valued between $300-$750, the charge is usually Theft 4th degree. Such a conviction can result in up to one year in jail and a fine between $315-$1,875.
Aggravated Misdemeanor Theft
If the stolen property is valued between $750-$1,500, the charge is usually Theft 3rd degree. Such a conviction can result in up to two years in prison and a fine between $625-$6,250.
Class D Felony Theft
If the stolen property is valued between $1,500 - $10,000 or is a vehicle, the charge is usually Theft 2nd degree. Such a conviction can result in up to five years in prison and a fine between $750-$7,500.
Class C Felony Theft
If the stolen property is valued over $10,000 or has special circumstances, the charge is usually Theft 1st degree. Such a conviction can result in up to ten years in prison and a fine between $1,000-$10,000.
Des Moines Theft Attorneys at Branstad & Olson
If you are accused of theft, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help you understand the charges against you and your legal options. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to get the charges reduced or dismissed. If you have kleptomania or any special circumstances, treatment options may be available to show you want to take control of this condition.
No matter your situation, the criminal defense team at Branstad & Olson can help protect your rights and fight for the best possible outcome in your case. Contact our dedicated attorneys online or by phone to get started. (515) 329-3100