Theft Crimes

Chattanooga Theft Crime Defense Lawyers

Accused of Robbery, Burglary or Another Theft Crime? We Can Help.

Theft crimes involve depriving another person of his or her property without consent. They also include theft of services, such as fraud, deception, forgery, or any means of avoiding payment. Being accused of theft is a serious matter not only because of the criminal penalties you face but because of the future repercussions a conviction can bring. Future employers will likely turn you down in favor of other applicants if they believe you capable of dishonesty.

Bringing in a trusted attorney as soon as possible to help you fight back against your charges is critical. In Chattanooga, you can turn to Speek, Turner & Newkirk, PLLC for proven criminal defense. With our firm, you will have the benefit of several legal minds working together on your behalf, conducting exhaustive investigations, legal analyses, and handling all aspects of negotiation and trial. Our team is prepared to take on even the most challenging and complex cases.

Aside from the criminal and civil penalties that can come with a theft crime conviction, you will also have a permanent criminal record. A conviction can lead to the loss of professional licenses—such as realtors’, nurses’, pharmacists’, and pilots’ licenses—and bar you from obtaining such licenses in the future. Additionally, future landlords may be reluctant to approve your application for housing if they run a routine background check, which will reveal your criminal record.

Accused of theft? Call us at (423) 799-3030 or contact us online as soon as possible to speak with a Chattanooga theft crime attorney during a FREE consultation.

Penalties for Theft Crimes in Tennessee

Most states base theft crime classifications and penalties on the value of the goods or services stolen, and Tennessee is no exception. The lowest level of theft in the state is the theft of items valued at $500 or less, which is charged as a Class A misdemeanor and is punishable by up to a year in jail and/or fines up to $2,500.

Beyond the above, theft crimes are charged as felonies. The lowest-level felony theft crime involves goods or services valued between $500 and $1,000. This is a Class E felony, punishable by one to six years of incarceration and/or fines up to $3,000.

A Class D felony theft crime is charged when goods or services are valued between $1,000 and $10,000. This charge is punishable by 2 to 12 years in prison and fines up to $5,000.

A Class C felony theft occurs when the goods or services stolen carry a value of $10,000 up to $60,000. This is punishable by 3 to 15 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.

A Class B felony theft is committed when goods or services stolen are worth more than $60,000. Penalties for this felony include 8 to 30 years in prison and fines up to $25,000.

In cases of shoplifting, you may also be subject to a civil lawsuit by the retailer seeking damages.

Types of Theft Crimes

Theft crimes in Tennessee include:

  • Shoplifting or petty theft
  • Theft of property or services
  • Embezzlement
  • Robbery
  • Grand theft or grand theft auto
  • Credit card fraud
  • Receiving, concealing, or possessing stolen property

Additionally, these crimes are related to theft and can carry similar punishments:

  • Extortion
  • Forgery
  • Identity theft
  • Writing worthless checks

What’s the Difference Between Theft, Burglary, and Robbery in Tennessee?

Knowing the differences between theft, burglary, and robbery in Tennessee will help you understand the various consequences for each charge. Though they sound similar, slight variations between theft crimes affect each crime’s associated penalties.


If you take property or services without the owner’s consent, you’re committing theft. Tennessee law uses theft as an umbrella term that covers embezzlement, false pretenses, fraudulent conversion, larceny, and receiving stolen property.

Charges for theft depend on the value of property or services stolen. The charges can range from a misdemeanor to felony. The harshest charge for theft is a Class B Felony if the stolen items or services are valued at over $60,000. This charge comes with an 8-30 year sentence and a fine not to exceed $25,000.


Burglary is entering a dwelling, such as a home or business, without the owner’s consent or knowledge and with the intent to commit a crime. Breaking into a house and stealing its contents while the owners are sleeping, for example, is aggravated burglary.

The minimum charge for Burglary starts as a Class E Felony if the structure was a vehicle, which carries a sentence of 1-6 years of prison and a fine of up to $3,000. If the burglary is a business, it is a Class D Felony. However, Aggravated Burglary, which includes entering a residence, can be defined as a Class C Felony.


Robbery is using violence or a threat of physical harm to steal from a victim, so it’s a combination of theft and violence. Of all the theft crimes, robbery can carry the harshest penalty, a Class A Felony, with mandatory prison time.

The minimum charge for robbery starts as a Class C Felony, for a crime like purse snatching.

Aggravated Robbery is a Class B Felony and carries a sentence of 8-30 years. For the crime to be considered Aggravated Robbery, it must involve both theft, and either personal injury to a victim or the use of a weapon to commit the crime. Stealing cash while holding up a store clerk with a gun is an example of Aggravated Robbery.

The third type of robbery is Especially Aggravated Robbery, which means that both a theft occurred and bodily harm was inflicted on a victim. This Class A Felony will carry 15-60 years in prison and a maximum fine of $50,000.

Facing any legal troubles involving theft charges can have damaging and far-reaching consequences. An experienced Chattanooga theft crime attorney will work hard to minimize or your charges or get them dropped altogether.

We Are Your Trusted Legal Advocates

If you have been arrested for, charged with, or are even simply under investigation for any type of crime, you should immediately contact the Chattanooga theft crime defense lawyers at Speek, Turner & Newkirk PLLC. We can step in to protect your legal rights and ensure that you receive proper and fair treatment by law enforcement and investigators. If you are charged with a theft crime, we know that thorough preparation is key; our goal is to out-prepare our opponents to ensure that you have the strongest possible defense.

Facing theft charges? Learn more about how we can defend you by contacting us at (423) 799-3030 today. 

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