To commit a theft in Washington, an individual must wrongfully gain or exert control over someone's property or services with the intent to deprive the owner of that property or the value of those services. The unlawful taking can also be achieved through deception. Taking lost property or property that was mistakenly delivered also constitutes theft in the state.
Degrees of Theft in Washington
Washington recognizes three degrees of theft. Much of the distinction between the levels is based on the value of the property involved. For instance, the property value for theft in the first degree (the most serious of the offenses) must exceed $5,000, while the property value for the third-degree offense must be less than $750.
Washington Theft Laws: The Basics
Although it's important to know every aspect of a statute when conducting legal research, reading the full text takes a lot of time and effort. You can save time and still learn about the law by referring to a condensed version of the content. See the chart below to become acquainted with the basics of Washington theft law.
Washington Revised Code:
First Degree Theft
Theft in the first degree is a theft of:
- Property that exceeds $5,000 (other than a firearm);
- Property of any value (other than a firearm or a motor vehicle) taken directly from another person; or
- Commercial metal property (street light poles and fixtures, traffic signals) and nonferrous metal property and private metal property and the costs of the damage to the owner's property exceed $5,000 in value.
Penalty: Punishable by incarceration of up to 10 years and/or a fine up to $20,000 (class B felony)
Second Degree Theft
Theft in the second degree is a theft of:
- Property or services (other than a firearm or a motor vehicle) valued at more than $750, but less than $5,000;
- Commercial metal property, nonferrous metal property, private metal property and the costs of the damage to the owner's property exceed $750 in value, but don't exceed $5,000; or
- An access device (any card, code, account number, or other means that can be used to obtain, money, goods, or anything else of value).
Penalty: Punishable by incarceration of up to 5 years and/or a fine up to $10,000 (class C felony)
Third Degree Theft
Theft in the third degree is committed when the value of the property doesn't exceed $750.
Penalty: Punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine up to $5,000 (gross misdemeanor)
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Washington Theft Laws: Related Resources
Charged with Theft in Washington? Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney
Being accused of violating Washington's theft laws can have a serious impact on your life. Depending on the type of property involved, you could be facing costly fines or even a prison sentence. Contact a Washington criminal defense attorney who can evaluate your case and give you options on how to proceed.