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What Is the Typical Punishment for Petty Theft?

Petty theft - don't let the name fool you.

Theft is a state crime, and therefore determining whether criminal theft is petty or grand differs by state. Generally, classification is determined by the dollar amount of the item stolen, with $500-$1,000 usually being the upper limit for petty theft. Though this is the general definition of petty theft, all generalities stop there. Punishment for petty theft runs the gamut, from probation to life in prison.

First, there were hangings and firing squads. Then, the electric chair and gas chamber. After that, lethal injection. At each step, executions were thought to be getting more humane, less cruel and unusual. And yet we come to find that certain combinations of drugs used for lethal injections are far from as painless as we thought they were. And after several recent botched executions, some states may even be returning to firing squads.

One reason is that drug makers have either been refusing to sell to corrections departments or suing to block executions using their drugs. One such lawsuit may halt Nebraska's first ever lethal injection, and first public execution since 1997.

Understandably, victims of crime often pursue justice against their perpetrators. However, not all are content with the investigations and outcomes achieved by the criminal justice system. So, some will conduct private investigations or pursue civil actions at great personal expense. And while those are perfectly reasonable courses of action to take, the Supreme Court ruled last week that under existing law, convicted defendants can't be required to reimburse crime victims for those expenses.

What Happens When Sentences Are Ruled Unconstitutional?

The fascinating thing about law is that it's always changing. Whether legislators create new ones or the judiciary clarifies or invalidates existing ones, what was legal yesterday might not be legal tomorrow. This is certainly true in the realm of criminal procedure and criminal justice, where prosecutors, law enforcement, defense attorneys, and civil rights activists all battle over what justice and public safety look like.

But what happens when the law changes? Does it also change for people convicted before the new law took effect? For example, of interest to the U.S. population living in prison, what happens when sentences are ruled unconstitutional?

Oregon School Shooter Sentenced to 112 Years

When a minor commits a crime, there's often a tug-of-war that occurs in society. On one end, people believe criminals should be held accountable for their crimes, especially heinous ones. On the other end, because of their biologically underdeveloped brains, we generally assign less culpability to and have greater hope for the rehabilitation of juveniles.

In 1998, a 15-year-old shot dozens of people, killing four. Now, twenty years later, the state supreme court has affirmed the sentence that will keep him in prison for the rest of his life, though not everyone agrees with that outcome.

Driving the Wrong Way on a One-Way Road: Legal Consequences

There's an old joke about senior citizens and driving. Jim is travelling home on the freeway when his wife calls and says she heard on the radio that there's a car driving the wrong way on Route 80. "It's not just one car! It's hundreds of them!" he exclaims.

But the truth is, accidentally driving down a one-way road can happen to even the most vigilant of drivers, especially if you don't live or work in a city with one-way roads. You turn down a quiet street only to realize your mistake when you see nothing but headlights blocking your path. It can be a simple, correctable mistake, or it can have devastating effects. So, what are the legal consequences for driving the wrong way down a one-way road?

World of Warcraft Hacker Gets Federal Prison Sentence

When you're a kid, grown-ups seem so mature and wise. And then you become an adult and you realize that grown-ups can be just as immature and petty as children, but with less of an excuse and a lot more power. In one shining display of adulthood, a grown man launched a cyberattack on the servers of the video game, "World of Warcraft," after getting angry at his online opponents. Now that gamer will spend a year in a grown-up federal prison.

Is It a Crime for a Teen to Refuse to Go to Class?

Many parents have wished they could call in reinforcements to get their kids to do what they should, whether it's clean their room, get off the phone, do their homework, or go to school. One California teen was so insistently truant that her mom actually felt she had no other choice but to call the cops for help. After that ended in the teen's arrest and stint in juvenile hall, an appeals court disagreed with that course of action, ruling that in California it's not a crime to refuse to go to class.

Charged for Theft Under $500 -- Do You Need a Lawyer?

Whether you stole a t-shirt from Target or a couple wireless headphones from the mall, theft is not a crime to take lightly. Even if you're charged for theft under $500, you still need a lawyer. The state will be represented by a prosecuting attorney, so shouldn't you have representation, too?

A lawyer will know how to argue for leniency, obtain the lowest possible sentence, or even a dismissal of the charges. So, whether this is your first run-in with the law, or you're a full-fledged kleptomaniac, an attorney can help guard your interests and protect your rights.

Credit Card Skimmer Sentenced to 4 Years in Prison

Having your identity stolen is extremely frustrating, and the effort to correct all the damage done can be mind-numbingly time consuming. You have to cancel your credit cards, fight fraudulent charges, and try to repair your credit. Thankfully, one more thief is behind bars after authorities discovered the credit card skimming scheme he was running in Virginia.