Theft Defense Attorney in the Portland Metro Area

Criminal Defense and Theft attorney Rhett Bernstein is available to practice criminal law anywhere throughout the state of Oregon, including: Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties; as well as most municipal courts throughout the Portland Metro area. Call (503) 454-6610 for a free initial case analysis.

Theft is taking something that doesn’t belong to you, without the permission of the owner. For the crime of Theft to be committed, the intent to deprive is required and the the property must be controlled.

The Criminal Defense law firm of Rhett Bernstein employs former prosecutors, former law enforcement officers, and former forensic experts. Rhett Bernstein defends clients throughout the state of Oregon; including Multnomah County, Clackamas County, Washington County, and all Portland-area municipal courts in the following counties and cities:

Classification of Theft

Oregon classifies Theft crimes based on the value of the stolen property. Theft of more valuable property is punished more severely. A person commits the crime of Theft when they:

  • Take, appropriate, obtain or withhold property from the owner
  • Take possession of lost property or property that has been delivered by mistake
  • Commit Theft by Extortion
  • Commit Theft by Deception
  • Knowingly receive property that has been stolen


Charge Classification Penalty
ORS 164.043 – Theft III Class C Misdemeanor $1,250 in fines and up to 30 days in jail
ORS 164.045 – Theft II Class A Misdemeanor $6,250 in fines and up to 1 year in jail
ORS 164.055 – Theft I Class C Felony $125,000 and up to 5 years in prison
ORS 164.057 – Aggravated Theft I Class B Felony $250,000 in fines and up to 10 years in prison

In addition to facing a criminal conviction which will result in fines, restitution, and jail or prison time, theft crimes are also considered Crimes of Moral Turpitude which also negatively reflect upon a person’s character.


Shoplifting in Oregon carries serious consequences, including potential fines and jail time. In addition to facing criminal charges, shoplifters can be sued by the victim in civil court to recover damages.

Oregon Shoplifting Laws

In Oregon, the crime of Shoplifting falls under the umbrella of Theft and is committed when property or merchandise is taken intentionally from the owner or merchant without being paid for. Shoplifting becomes Theft by Deception when a person changes price tags to a lower retail value.

Petty Theft

Petty Theft occurs when the value of the item taken is less than $100. Shoplifting is a type of Petty Theft, or Third-Degree Theft (Theft III), which is a Class C Misdemeanor. Taking a $20 item from a store would likely be considered Petty Theft; whereas taking $100,000 in items would be considered Major Felony Theft. The total value of the property stolen must be less than $100 in order for it to qualify. The punishment for theft in the third degree in Oregon is a maximum of 30 days in jail and a fine not to exceed $1,250.

Civil Liability

Adult shoplifters or the parents or legal guardians of juvenile shoplifters can be sued in civil court by their victims for:

  • The actual damages caused by the shoplifting
  • A penalty in the amount of the retail value of the item stolen
  • An additional penalty between $100 and $250

Alternatives to Prosecution

Certain individuals charged with first-time and low-level crimes are often offered alternatives to prosecution called Diversion or Deferred Adjudication Programs. Once the program requirements are met, which may include activities like undergoing a substance abuse evaluation, taking educational courses, and paying restitution, the criminal charges will be dropped.

Plea Bargaining

In situations where Diversion or Deferred Adjudication Programs are not available, your attorney may be able to arrange a plea bargain with the prosecutor assigned to the case. Plea bargains usually involve reduced charges or reduced sentencing in exchange for a guilty plea.

Embezzlement and Property Theft

Embezzlement is a type of Property Theft which occurs when a person, who is trusted to manage or monitor someone else’s money or property, takes all or part of it. The defining factor is that the accused had legal access to the other person’s money or property but did not legally own it.

Oregon Embezzlement Laws

In Oregon Embezzlement crimes are punished based on the value and the type of property stolen.

Motor Vehicle Theft

In Oregon, Motor Vehicle Theft, Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, Failing to Return a Rental Car, and Carjacking are all Theft crimes. Under most circumstances these crimes are punishable by up to five years in prison.

Oregon Motor Vehicle Theft Laws

Motor Vehicle Theft is a type of Property Theft which occurs when a person uses a master key to open and start another person’s car and takes the car with the intent to sell it. Additionally, a person who knowingly buys a stolen car has also committed a crime of Theft.

Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle or “Joyriding”

A person is guilty of the crime Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle when they drive, ride in, or use someone else’s vehicle without permission. For example, a mechanic who uses a vehicle in their possession in a way that is not related to repair.

Failure to Return a Rental Car

It a crime to not return a rented or leased car within three days of being given a written request to return the car.


Carjacking occurs when a person uses or threatens physical force to take a car while committing or attempting to commit Theft or Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle.

Identity Theft

You are guilty of the crime of Identity Theft when you use someone else’s personal identification information to your benefit. Personal identification information is anything which could be used to identify someone, such as their name, address, Social Security number, or date of birth. Identity Theft is a Class C felony, punishable by up to $125,000 in fines and 5 years in prison.

Oregon Identity Theft Laws

Anyone in Oregon who possesses, obtains, creates, transfers, or otherwise uses another person’s personal identifying information with the intent to deceive or defraud commits the crime of identity theft.

Aggravated Identity Theft

Aggravated Identity Theft is a more serious form of Identity Theft and considered a Class B Felony. A person commits Aggravated Identity Theft when they commits Identity Theft:

  • 10 or more times within a 180-day period
  • After having been previously convicted of Aggravated Identity Theft
  • Which results in $10,000 or more in transactions within a 180-day period, or
  • Possesses 10 or more pieces of personal identifying information from 10 or more people

Theft Defense Attorney Serving the Portland Metro Area

A conviction for any crime, even a misdemeanor, can result in serious consequences, including time in prison or jail, a fine, and a criminal record. If you are accused of or charged with a crime, you should speak to an Oregon criminal defense attorney immediately. Only an experienced local lawyer who understands state law and has handled cases before local judges can give you the advice you need to protect your rights and successfully navigate the criminal justice system.

Legal Disclaimer: Nothing on this site shall be taken as legal advice. For advice on a legal matter, contact attorney Rhett Bernstein immediately for a free, confidential, no obligation consultation.

Criminal Defense attorney Rhett Bernstein is available to practice criminal law anywhere throughout the state of Oregon, including: Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties; as well as most municipal courts throughout the Portland Metro area.