The Statute of Limitations for Petty Theft In Ohio

When a person takes something that does not belong to him, he is committing theft. If he is a found guilty of that crime, he may be sentenced to jail time or ordered to pay a fine. When a crime like theft is committed in Ohio, the prosecutor has a limited amount of time, called the statute of limitations, in which to bring a suspect to trial.

Petty Theft

Ohio Revised Code 2913.02 defines theft as taking someone’s property with the intention of depriving the owner of use of that property. Theft generally occurs without the owner’s consent. However, in some circumstances, a person may commit theft by going “beyond the scope of the owner’s consent.” This can occur when someone gives consent for a person to borrow a necklace and the person commits theft by failing to return the necklace. Under the statute, a person commits theft by threat, deceit or intimidation. The theft is considered petty theft if the value of the property taken is less than $500. Common examples are shoplifting, stealing office supplies or taking small items from a home someone works in as a nanny or housekeeper.

Statute of Limitations

A suspect must be charged with a crime before the statute of limitations expires. Failure to do so means the crime cannot be prosecuted. The statute of limitations for criminal charges, including theft, are set forth in Section 2901.13 of the Ohio Revised Code. Petty theft is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor. According to 2901.13(b), a suspect must be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor no more than two years after the crime occurred.


If a person is found guilty of petty theft, she may be required to pay restitution to the victim from which she stole. Ohio Revised Code 2929.28(A)(1) allows a court to order restitution in an amount up to the value of the item stolen. The court is permitted to take recommendations from the victim and view receipts for the original item, if available, receipts for the replacement of the stolen item and the police department’s investigative report, in order to determine the appropriate amount of restitution.


The court has several options when setting the sentence for a person convicted of petty theft. The court will consider the nature of the crime and whether the person has a prior criminal record. Based on those factors, a court may order fines, jail time, or a combination of the two, in addition to any required restitution. Under 2929.24, the jail term for a first-degree misdemeanor is no more than 180 days. A fine of $1,000 can also be ordered, according to 2929.28(A)(20(a)(i). If a person took something of minimal value and does not have a criminal record, the court has the option of sentencing him to probation and community service.