The state of Minnesota categorizes theft charges into felonies and misdemeanors, depending upon the circumstances surrounding the charge and the value of the merchandise that the accused allegedly stole. Although misdemeanor theft charges and convictions are not as serious as felony theft charges and convictions, your criminal record may impact an employer’s hiring decision. The good news is that there are many jobs that hire misdemeanor theft convicts. Your past does not have to be your future.
One of the best ways to avoid the negative effects of a misdemeanor theft conviction is to get an experienced Minnesota theft defense attorney involved in your case as soon as possible. The legal team at Gerald Miller, P.A. can review and investigate the circumstances surrounding your theft charge and formulate a strong legal defense against your criminal charge. We will do everything possible to help you avoid the negative consequences associated with a misdemeanor theft charge or conviction, including those having to do with hiring and employment. Please call us today to learn more about how we can assist you in your legal defense.
What Is a Misdemeanor Theft Charge in Minnesota?
A person may be charged with misdemeanor theft in the state of Minnesota when they intentionally (and without permission) take services, merchandise, or property belonging to another person, the property having a value of under $500. In order for you to be convicted of a misdemeanor theft charge, the prosecuting attorney must be able to satisfy these legal elements and prove them beyond a reasonable doubt.
If the prosecution is unable to meet its legal burden, your lawyer may be able to argue that fact, as well as any other legal defenses that may be applicable to your criminal theft charge. For example, you may have honestly believed you had a right to the property at issue, and thus the prosecutor may not be able to establish intent on your part.
If you are ultimately convicted on a misdemeanor theft charge, a judge may sentence you to pay a maximum monetary fine of $1,000 and serve 90 days in jail. In cases where the property at issue has a value in the amount of $500 to $1,000, the charge turns into a gross misdemeanor with a maximum monetary fine of $3,000, along with one year of incarceration.
Finally, in cases where an individual commits a gross misdemeanor theft offense, and they had one or more recent theft offenses already on record, the individual can be charged with felony theft. In that instance, a sentencing judge may impose a maximum monetary penalty of $10,000, along with a maximum of five years of incarceration.
If you are currently facing a criminal charge for misdemeanor theft, speak with an experienced theft defense lawyer at Gerald Miller, P.A. right away. Our legal team can examine your criminal charge and explore all of your potential legal options.
Impact of a Misdemeanor Theft Conviction on a Person’s Life
A charge or conviction for a misdemeanor theft offense in Minnesota can have an impact on a person’s life, including that person’s ability to find (and keep) a job. Prospective employers have ready access to online criminal records, and a charge or conviction for misdemeanor theft may negatively impact a hiring decision. Of course, the impact of a prior misdemeanor theft conviction on current employment depends largely upon the job for which a person is applying. If the individual is applying for a position as a security officer, for example, the prior theft charge or conviction is likely to play a bigger role in the hiring decision than if the individual is applying for a construction job.
In addition, employers will typically consider the age of a prospective employee when they were charged or convicted of misdemeanor theft. Depending upon the circumstances, the employer may simply write the situation off as youthful ignorance.
An experienced Minnesota theft defense attorney at Gerald Miller, P.A. can assist you with developing a strong legal defense to your theft charge to advance in court. Under some circumstances, your lawyer may be able to work out a favorable plea deal with the prosecuting attorney assigned to your case. In some cases, a plea bargain may involve a period of probation that, if completed successfully, will result in no conviction at the conclusion of your case.
If you were found to be not guilty or did not plead guilty to your misdemeanor theft charge, you may be eligible to have the charge expunged from your record under certain circumstances. If the record is expunged, meaning that it is sealed from public view, you will not have to worry about a prospective employer viewing the record and using it as a basis for a hiring decision.
Other Collateral Consequences of a Misdemeanor Theft Conviction
The impact a theft conviction has your future career is only one of the collateral consequences that comes with a conviction. A collateral consequence is anything that negatively impacts you following a conviction other than the penalties written into state law.
In addition to challenges with your employment, you could also struggle to find adequate housing. Much like an employer, a prospective landlord also has the right to discriminate against you based on your criminal record.
If you have a professional license, you could also face suspension or revocation based on a criminal conviction. While a misdemeanor theft charge is typically unlikely to cost anyone a professional license, there is no guarantee that it won’t lead to consequences.
Expunging a Misdemeanor Theft Conviction in Minnesota
Under Minnesota law, there is a process for sealing a criminal record following a conviction. This process is known as expungement. While expungement does not delete your conviction, it does seal it from the permanent record and prevent it from being publicly available. What is important is that it allows you to answer truthfully on job applications that you do not have a criminal conviction on your permanent record. The benefits that come with expungement are significant.
Whether expungement is an option in your case depends on the severity of the charge. For misdemeanor theft offenses, you could qualify for expungement as soon as two years after your conviction. Securing an expungement for felony theft charges can be more difficult. For that reason, you should always speak to an attorney before you attempt to obtain an expungement of your theft conviction.
The Importance of Avoiding a Misdemeanor Theft Conviction
The reality is that it can be difficult to address the consequences of a theft charge after you have been convicted. Your criminal record could follow you for the rest of your life, and expungement might not be an option for you depending on your circumstances. That is why it is so important to aggressively defend yourself during the course of your theft case.
You might be surprised to learn how many theft cases are ultimately dropped by the prosecution. Proving these cases can be difficult, and the police routinely make arrests despite a lack of solid evidence. With the right attorney by your side, you might be able to see your case dismissed before you ever go to trial.
There are also ways of mitigating the harm of a theft conviction. Even if you plead guilty or are convicted at trial, our team of attorneys could reduce or minimize the severity of the penalties you face. You could avoid jail time following a conviction or even have your sentencing stayed as part of a diversion program.
One of the situations where the guidance of an attorney is truly invaluable is when your case goes to trial. Litigating a misdemeanor theft case is complicated, and a deep understanding of the law is invaluable. Our team of attorneys could help you avoid the pitfalls that can come with pursuing your own defense.
Consult a Minnesota Theft Defense Lawyer from Gerald Miller, P.A.
Difficulty with securing a job is only one of the ways a misdemeanor theft conviction could haunt you in the future. In some cases, you could also miss out on housing opportunities, lose scholarships for your education, or even face immigration consequences. The good news is that an arrest for misdemeanor theft does not have to guarantee a conviction. There are jobs that hire misdemeanor theft convicts, but you may also be able to get your conviction expunged. The attorneys of Gerald Miller can help you.
If you have been charged with misdemeanor theft, the legal team at Gerald Miller, P.A. will work to minimize the negative consequences of your criminal charge and/or conviction. For a free case evaluation and legal consultation with a knowledgeable Minnesota theft defense attorney, please give us a call at 612-440-4610 or contact us online for more information about how we can assist.
This article was originally published on August 13, 2020 and updated on September 13, 2021.