What is Petty Theft?

What is Petty Theft?

In Minnesota, property worth over $400-$500 is considered to be grand theft. Anything lower is determined a petty theft. Petty theft by definition is a type of theft crime that is based on the low value of the stolen property.

The most common act of petty theft is shoplifting, where the defendant is lawfully on the premises and steals from the store by placing merchandise in a pocket or purse. Usually if there is security around, they will stop it before a person walks out the door and decides whether or not they are going to press charges. Below are other examples of petty theft that most people do not consider grand theft.

Examples of Petty Theft:

  • Switching price tags on merchandise so that you pay less
  • Putting more a valuable item into packaging for a less valuable item
  • “Eat and run”- not paying for food eaten in a restaurant
  • “Watch and run”- not paying for movies viewed in a theater

What are the charges?

Don’t let the name petty theft mislead you on the consequences of doing the crime. Some petty thefts can lead to different punishments. When a person commits a theft where the value of the property or services stolen is $500 or less they will receive a sentence of imprisonment no more than 90 days and/or a fine no more than $1,000 (Minn. Stat. Ann. § 609.52 Subd. 3(5).) Though most first time offenders of petty theft get charged for a misdemeanor (which is a minor offense), some may result in felony charges for repeated theft.

It is also good to keep in mind that this can make a difference on a person’s criminal record.  A felony is much more difficult to erase compared to a misdemeanor and this can have a great impact when applying for a job.

Should I hire a lawyer?

If you have been charged with petty theft, whether or not you are guilty or innocent, it is good to hire a defense lawyer. They can advise what your best options are, go over all of the details of your case, reduce the charges and/or dismiss them completely.

For a more detailed look at theft, please visit the corresponding link below:


If you’re a Minnesota or Wisconsin resident seeking information on how Repka Law can fight for you or your loved ones, contact Repka Law at DANIEL@REPKALAWLLC.COM

(651) 395-7421