David N Lesh
Oregon Theft Crimes Defense Attorney
Oregon Super Lawyer 2018 - 2023

Call me today to speak about your theft charge. 
(503) 546-2928
Photo of attorney David Lesh


Aggravated Theft in the First Degree (ORS 164.057)

Theft in the First Degree known as Theft I or Theft One (ORS 164.055)

Theft in the Second Degree known as Theft II or Theft Two (ORS 164.045)

Theft in the Third Degree known as Theft III or Theft Three (ORS 164.043)

I just got arrested / cited for an Oregon theft charge.  What happens now?

If you were arrested for a misdemeanor theft charge, you were probably given a citation or release agreement directing you to appear in court at a future date.  If you were arrested for a felony theft charge, you may have been given a citation or you may have been booked into custody and ordered to appear in court on the next business day following your arrest.  Either way, you must appear in court at the date and time specified.  Failing to appear at a court date will result in a bench warrant for your arrest and possibly another criminal charge.


In some (but not all) courts, you can have a retained attorney appear in your place for the first court appearance if you are charged with a misdemeanor offense.  Talk with your lawyer about whether waiving your first court appearance is possible.


How do I know if I am charged with a felony or misdemeanor theft charge in the State of Oregon?


If you were charged with theft in the third degree (sometimes referred to as "Theft 3") or theft in the second degree ("Theft 2"), you are charged with a misdemeanor crime. 


If you were charged with theft in the first degree ("Theft 1") or aggravated theft in the first degree, then you are facing a felony charge. 


There are other related charges such as identity theft; forgery; criminal possession of a forged instrument; etc. which are outside the scope of the discussion here.


What is the difference between these different theft charges in Oregon?


The four main Oregon theft charges are summarized in very general terms:



Theft in the third degree


ORS 164.043

 Class C misdemeanor

—stealing property valued at less than $100.

Theft in the second degree


ORS 164.045

 Class A misdemeanor

—stealing property valued at between $100 and $1000.

Theft in the first degree


ORS 164.055

Class C felony

May be committed in a variety of ways including:


—stealing property valued at more than $1000; or

—stealing a firearm or explosive (of any value); or

—stealing a companion animal or livestock; or

—buying or selling property known to be stolen (of any value); or

—stealing a precursor substance;

—stealing property during a riot, fire, catastrophe.

Aggravated theft in the first degree


ORS 164.057

Class B felony

—stealing property valued at greater than $10,000.

This is only a general summary of the various types of theft charges.  Always consult an Oregon criminal defense lawyer about specifics or your situation.  If you are charged with an "attempted" theft charge, the crime classification is lowered one level.  For example, attempted theft in the first degree (Attempted Theft I) is a Class A misdemeanor instead of a Class C felony.

Are there other types of theft charges in Oregon?

Yes.  As you can see above, it is illegal to take / steal property of another.  It is also a crime to receive property known to be stolen or buy or sell stolen property.  Oregon also criminalizes "theft of services" in the same manner as the theft of property.  Also prohibited is theft of lost or mislaid property; theft by extortion; and theft by deception.

There is no crime called "petty theft" in Oregon.  Theft of vehicles (e.g. cars or trucks) are generally charged as unlawful use of a vehicle under ORS 164.135 and possession of a stolen vehicle under ORS 819.300.  There is no crime called "grand theft auto" in Oregon.

Does Oregon have a crime called "shoplifting?"

There is no Oregon crime called "shoplifting."  Generally, when someone shoplifts (steals from a store) an item the person is charged with one of the above theft counts.  For example, if you shoplift $35 worth of merchandise, you would be charged with theft in the third degree (Theft III).  If you shoplift $120 worth of merchandise, you would be charged with theft in the second degree (Theft II).

I was cited to appear in "community court" in Multnomah County.  What does this mean?


If you were arrested for a misdemeanor theft offense in Multnomah County, you may be cited to appear in community court (usually Courtroom 1 of the Justice Center).  Community court offers defendants the opportunity to perform a quantity of community service in exchange for a either a dismissal of the charge or a sentence of discharge. 


For persons charged with a first time misdemeanor theft offense, community court can be an attractive option that could result in the dismissal of the charge upon successful completion of the program requirements.  Your lawyer can explain more about this program.


If you are able to obtain a dismissal of the charge through community court, you may be immediately eligible to seal or expunge the record of your arrest.

What is a civil compromise?

Certain crimes, including most theft crimes, may be compromised and dismissed if the complaining witness (victim) and the court (judge) agree. There is a formal process to apply to have charges dismissed pursuant to a civil compromise.  First, the complaining witness must acknowledge in writing that the person has received satisfaction for the injury / theft.  Next, the court must be convinced that dismissal of the charge(s) pursuant to civil compromise is appropriate.  If both of these conditions are met, the court will sign an order dismissing the charge(s) pursuant to the civil compromise.

Several issues may affect the ability of a defendant to obtain a civil compromise.  Whether the DA objects, consents, or takes no position is a significant factor.  Also, if a defendant has a prior record or a prior civil compromise, getting the court to agree to a civil compromise may not be possible.  Some judges will not approve a civil compromise agreement for employee thefts or vulnerable victim (elderly / disabled) thefts.  Sometimes the court will require that the defendant sign a release of liability against the complaining witness and police officers in order to obtain a civil compromise.  Some courts charge fees to approve a civil compromise agreement.

Keep in mind that many corporate theft victims are unwilling to sign civil compromise agreements.

What is the punishment or sentence for a theft charge in Oregon?

Most theft charges result in a sentence of probation in Oregon.  Occasionally, a person convicted of a felony theft charge will go to prison.  Usually this happens if the value of the property / money taken is very large.  This can also happen if the defendant has prior theft conviction(s).  For a first offense, there is often little to no jail time if the value of the property taken isn't too large.

What is the difference between theft and robbery?

Both crimes typically involve taking the property of another without lawful authority.  However, robbery also involves the use or threatened use of force with the taking.  Robberies are therefore more serious offenses.

Can I expunge / seal an Oregon theft conviction?

Most theft charges are eligible to be expunged / sealed if you meet the general requirements (e.g. enough time has elapsed, completed your sentence.


If you are convicted of a theft charge, there will be a waiting period, generally from three to ten years, before you will be eligible to apply for expungement.  If your theft charge is dismissed, then you may be able to move to expunge your arrest without waiting.  Check with an experienced lawyer to see if you qualify.


How do I contact David Lesh for help with my theft case?


Mr. Lesh does not charge for an initial consultation.  Call his office at 503.546.2928 to speak with him.  Mr. Lesh's office is located at 434 NW 19th Avenue in Portland.  


David N Lesh


About the Author: 

David Lesh is a Portland attorney emphasizing the defense of serious criminal charges.  He has been a member of the Oregon State Bar since 1990.  Mr. Lesh is a former Multnomah County prosecutor (5 years) and lawyer to the Portland Police Bureau (3 years).  He was named an Oregon Super Lawyer in 2018 - 2023.  His law practice has an A+ BBB rating.
Office Location:  434 NW 19th Avenue; Portland, OR  97209
Phone:  503.546.2928   |   Fax:  503.296.2935
Email: info @ davidlesh.net (no spaces)

Privacy Policy

"I defend and help people facing theft charges in the Portland metro area. 
Call me today at 503.546.2928 for immediate assistance with your theft case."

"Should you hire me to represent you, I will be your lawyer and point of contact.
I don't use-low level associates, paralegals, legal assistants, or case managers.
I personally respond to your phone calls and emails; I meet with you; I appear with you in court."


"David is extremely knowledgeable and an expert in the courtroom." 


W. Mitchell

5 stars


Websites, including this one, provide general information but do not provide legal advice or create a lawyer / client relationship.  Consult qualified Oregon theft lawyers / attorneys for advice about any specific problem that you may have.  Oregon defense lawyers are governed by the Oregon Code of Professional Responsibility.  This website may be considered an advertisement for services under the Code of Professional Responsibility.  Information contained in this website is believed to be accurate but is not guaranteed.  By David N Lesh, info@davidlesh.net.  All reviews and testimonials on this site are real and were unsolicited. 



David Lesh provides theft defense assistance to the Oregon communities of:  Portland Ore., Portland OR, NW Northwest, SW Southwest, SE Southeast, NE Northeast, and N North; Gresham; Beaverton; Hillsboro; Tigard; Lake Oswego; McMinnville; Oregon City; Tualatin; West Linn; Woodburn; Milwaukie; Forest Grove; Wilsonville; Troutdale; Sherwood; Canby; and Multnomah County; Clackamas County; and Washington Counties.  Read our privacy statement.  Mr. Lesh accepts American Express, Discover, Visa and MasterCard and other debit and credit cards / card.  Copyright 2024, 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007.