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Can someone go to prison for stealing something that has no value?

Posted by Andrew Segal | Mar 28, 2017 | 0 Comments

III. Theft of property, Third Degree.

If you steal something with a negative value, something that's worth no money, or worth less than no money, could you go to prison?

Say I leave my Debit card on my desk. The card is worthless since I have a negative $2000 balance on it. Now, Dumb Dan comes along and steals the card.

What crime has Dumb Dan committed?

Even though the card is worthless Dan has committed theft of property in the 3rd°. A Felony.

Why?

Alabama recently changed its laws regarding theft 3rd.

Under Alabama's new law, this crime is a felony and it can be committed two different ways.

The first is if someone steals property with a value over $500 but not more than $1499.

Since my debit card is worthless, Dan hasn't committed the crime in this way.

However, the other way theft, third occurs is if someone steals a credit or debit card regardless of its value.

So, Dan is guilty of theft 3rd° since he stole my debit card.

Dan now faces from a year and a day to five years in the State penitentiary because he stole a worthless card.

About the Author

Andrew Segal

Andrew Segal is a former prosecutor who now represents the accused as a criminal defense attorney in Huntsville, Alabama area courts. Andrew graduated cum laude from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, in 1982. During his time at Washington College of Law at American University, he discovered hi...

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