Bill Description: House Bill 53 would increase the threshold for grand theft from $1,000 to $1,800.
Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?
House Bill 53 would amend Section 18-2407, Idaho Code, to reclassify "grand theft" as the unlawful taking of property with a value exceeding $1,800, a change from the current threshold of $1,000 or more.
This proposal follows a pattern seen in recent years in states such as California and New York, where penalties for theft and other property crimes are reduced, resulting in more frequent and brazen crimes.
While proposals of this nature are sometimes limited to first-time offenders, the increased threshold found in House Bill 53 would apply to repeat offenders as well.
Raising the threshold for grand theft from $1,000 to $1,800 would convert a theft of property worth less than $1,800 into a petit theft, which carries a maximum fine of $1,000. It seems odd, to say the least, that the maximum fine for stealing could be well below the value of the property stolen.
It is also worth noting that prosecutors frequently offer offenders plea deals, so thefts of property above the statutory threshold for grand theft are often pled down to petit theft, disturbing the peace, or some other lesser charge.
The idea of enacting criminal justice reform by moving away from prosecuting victimless crimes is a good one. We must be careful, though, not to devalue the lives and property of those who are victims of theft. Theft is not a victimless crime, and a loss of $1,800 or even $1,000 in property, is not an insignificant infringement on the rights of the victim.