Offenses Against Property

Theft of Property

Under § 39-14-103(a), a person commits theft of property if, with intent to deprive the owner of property, the person knowingly obtains or exercises control over the property without the owner’s effective consent. Thus, you commit theft in Tennessee by unlawfully taking someone else’s property while having no intent to give it back to its owner.

Theft of Services

Under § 39-14-104, a person commits theft of service who: (1) intentionally obtains services by deception, fraud, coercion, forgery, false statement, false pretense or any other means to avoid payment for the services; (2) having control over the disposition of services to others, knowingly diverts those services to the person’s own benefit or to the benefit of another not entitled thereto; or (3) knowingly absconds from establishments where compensation for services is ordinarily paid immediately upon the rendering of them, including, but not limited to, hotels, motels, and restaurants, without payment or a bona fide offer to pay.

Penalties for Theft

Tennessee classifies theft offenses according to the value of the property or services involved.

CrimeChargePenalty
Value of property or services stolen is $500 or lessClass A Misdemeanor TheftImprisonment no more than 11 months and 29 days and a fine of no more than $2,500
Value of property or services stolen is more than $500, but less than $1,000Class E Felony TheftImprisonment for not less than 1 year and not more than 6 years and a fine of no more than $3,000
Value of the property or services stolen is $1,000 or more but less than $10,000Class D Felony TheftImprisonment not less than 2 years and not more than 12 years and a fine not to exceed $5,000
Value of the property or services stolen is $10,000 or more but less than $60,000Class C Felony TheftImprisonment for not less than 3 years and not more than 15 years and a fine not to exceed $10,000
Value of property or services stolen is $60,000 or moreClass B Felony TheftImprisonment for not less than 8 years and not more than 30 years and a fine not to exceed $25,000

Criminal Simulation

Under § 39-14-115, criminal simulation is a Class E felony and is defined as having the intent to defraud or harm another by:

  • (1) Making or altering an object, in whole or in part, so that it appears to have value because of age, antiquity, rarity, source or authorship that it does not have; or
  • (2) Authenticating or certifying an object so made or altered as genuine or as different from what it is; and
  • (3) Possessing an object so made or altered, with intent to sell, pass or otherwise utter it;
  • (4) Possessing any machinery, plates or other contrivances designed to produce instruments reporting to be credit or debit cards of an issuer who had not consented to the preparation of the cards;
  • (5) Possessing any instrument, apparatus or contrivance designed, adapted or used for commission of any theft of property or services by fraudulent means.
Arson and Aggravated Arson

Under § 39-14-301, a person commits arson by knowingly damaging any structures by means of a fire or explosion: (1) without the consent of all persons who have a possessory, proprietary or security interest therein; or (2) with intent to destroy or damage any structure to collect insurance for the damage or destruction or for any unlawful purpose.

The punishment for arson varies depending on the property that is damaged. Arson is a Class C felony, however arson of a place of worship is a Class B felony.

Aggravated Arson is committed when a person commits arson when (1) 1 or more persons are present therein; or (2) when any person, including firefighters and law enforcement, suffers serious bodily injury as a result of the fire or explosion. Aggravated arson is a Class A felony.

Burglary and Related Offenses

If you are charged with burglary, it is important to consult a knowledgeable attorney to understand what the state must prove in order to convict you. Burglary is usually charged as a Class D felony except when the offense involves entering a freight or passenger car, automobile, truck, trailer, boat, airplane or other motor vehicle burglary is a Class E felony.

Burglary occurs when, without the effective consent of the property owner, you:

  1. Enter a building other than a habitation (or any portion thereof) not open to the public, with intent to commit a felony, theft or assault;
  2. Remain concealed, with the intent to commit a felony, theft or assault, in a building;
  3. Enter a building and commits or attempts to commit a felony, theft or assault; or
  4. Enter any freight or passenger car, automobile, truck, trailer, boat, airplane or other motor vehicle with intent to commit a felony, theft or assault or commits or attempts to commit a felony, theft or assault.

Aggravated burglary is burglary of a habitation meaning any buildings, mobile homes, trailers, or vehicle that is designed or adapted for overnight accommodation of persons. Aggravated burglary is charged as a Class C Felony.

Especially aggravated burglary is a serious offense defined as Burglary of a habitation or building other than a habitation; and the victim (any person lawfully on the premises) suffers serious bodily injury. Especially aggravated burglary is charged as a Class B Felony.