Half a mil or $119.99? That is, should the value of Tom Brady’s stolen Super Bowl LI jersey be its replacement value, i.e. what it would cost his team to buy him a new #12 jersey ($119.99, plus tax, according to the NFL Shop), or should it be it’s fair market value, i.e. the highest amount a buyer would be willing to pay to own Brady’s jersey, which could be tens or even hundreds (ha!) of thousands of dollars? As our colleague Michael McCann, a law professor at the University of New Hampshire, explains in this report, the answer to this question will determine the severity of the punishment for the theft of Tom Brady’s jersey under Texas law, where the jersey was actually stolen. Like most U.S. States, Texas assigns very different penalties for theft, and the penalties range widely depending on the value of the stolen item. In the words of Professor McCann: “a stolen item worth between $500 and $1,499 is punishable by up to one year in jail as a misdemeanor offense. But if the stolen item is worth between $1,500 and $19,999, the thief can be charged with a felony and face up to two years in prison. A stolen item worth between $20,000 and $99,999 is a felony of the third degree under Texas law and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The maximum prison sentence increases to 20 years if the stolen item is worth between $100,000 and $199,999. What about a stolen item worth $200,000 or more? In Texas, a thief of such a high-value item has committed a felony in the first degree and faces between 5 years and 99 years—yes, 99 years—in prison.” Notice how the criminal penalties for theft (like income tax rates, see below) are “progressive” in nature, since the more stuff you steal or the more income you make, the more you pay …
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