The majority of states have a felony theft threshold between $1,000 and 1,500. In twenty-two states, you will be charged with a felony if you steal more than $1,000 in goods. In Massachusetts and Nevada, the threshold is $1,200. Ten more states, Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, Rhode Island, and Utah, set their threshold at $1,500.
Additionally, ten states have a threshold below $1,000. New Jersey has the lowest threshold in the country at $200. Illinois ($500), New Mexico ($500), Florida($750), Hawaii ($750), Indiana ($750), Missouri ($750), Washington ($750), Vermont ($900), and California ($950) are also states where someone will be charged with a felony for a very small amount of theft value.
The five remaining states have relatively higher thresholds for felony charges. Colorado, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina all have a theft threshold of $2,000. The highest threshold, $2,500, is found in Texas and Wisconsin.
Felony charges have much more effect on a person’s life than misdemeanor charges. Being charged with a felony not only comes with jail time, but it can also affect someone’s ability to rent or buy housing, apply for a job, and vote in elections.
A Campaign Zero analysis found that one large issue is that the thresholds for felony shoplifting are not updated on a regular basis. For example, New Jersey’s low threshold has not been changed since 1978. There is a big difference between the items that could cost $200 then and what costs the same amount today. New York is another state that has not updated its felony threshold in decades.
Because the price of goods has increased while the thresholds have stayed the same, many advocates believe that the thresholds should be updated so people do not suffer these extreme consequences for very minor crimes.
Not all states keep their felony theft thresholds stagnant. Revisions and updates to legal guidelines can change without much press and fanfare. That means it is advisable to check with an attorney or your state department to confirm the current theft amount threshold.