Legislation has been introduced to raise the minimum amount of theft that would result in a felony charge in Alabama from $500 to $1,500. That 200% increase would allow shoplifters to steal three times more before they face any punishment of consequence.
Theft of $500 to $1,499 currently is a Class D felony in Alabama. Under HB86 by Rep. Jim Hill, R-Moody, theft of between $1,500 and $2,500 would be a Class D felony. HB86 has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, which Hill, a former circuit judge in St. Clair County, chairs.
Last year, Hill proposed raising the minimum threshold to $2,000. That legislation never received a committee hearing.
The average felony threshold for Alabama and its border states is $550, according to Alabama Retail Association research. Adding the two other states traditionally considered as southeastern – North and South Carolina – raises that average to $821.43.
While Hill’s intent is to change various theft thresholds to alleviate overcrowding in Alabama prisons, such changes were not among the recommendations issued in late January by the Governor’s Study Group on Criminal Justice Policy. Alabama Sentencing Commission Executive Director Bennet Wright is quoted in that report as saying, “nearly four-fifths of the prison system is comprised of Class A and Class B felony offenders.”
Hill also is sponsoring legislation (HB89) to raise the threshold amounts for receiving stolen property.
Chambliss proposes making shoplifting a separate crime
This article is part of the Alabama Retail Report, a communication for Alabama Retail Association members. Not a member? Join us!
Reprints or republishing are welcomed but require permission. Contact us for permission.