The reform of the Penal Code that provides prison sentences of up to 18 months for petty theft in case of recidivism has entered into force this Monday.


According to its wording in the BOE, of July 29, article 234, section 2, is modified to give “an adequate response to cases of multiple recidivism”. It is explained that the reform is “necessary” because, although the previous regulation already provided for an aggravated modality for recidivism in theft, according to the Supreme Court’s doctrine, this was intended to punish thefts that exceeded 400 euros.

This interpretation of the Supreme Court –it is indicated in the BOE– supposed in fact that the minor crimes of theft that are committed in a multi-repeat offender “do not have a sufficient criminal response, despite the fact that they are crimes that are being the object of a growing concern for directly affecting not only tourism, trade and the economy in general, but also the very safety of citizens”.

With the reform that comes into force this Monday, cases of minor theft not exceeding 400 euros can be sanctioned more severely when they occur in a multi-recurrence.

Increased sentence for petty theft crimes

The BOE states that in order to avoid the disproportionate leap in sentence criticized by the Supreme Court, it is decided to increase the sentence for these crimes of minor theft, but without reaching the aggravated prison sentence of article 235.1 of the Penal Code.

Thus, in cases of petty theft or less than 400 euros, the penalty is increased provided that the perpetrator is a repeat offender and the total amount of what was stolen, including previous theft crimes, exceeds 400 euros.

In that case, the penalty imposed is not the aggravated type but the basic one, which is imprisonment from 6 to 18 months. “In this way, it is possible to give cases of multiple recidivism a more dissuasive criminal response and adjusted to the seriousness of the conduct, without incurring a disproportionate increase in the penalty,” says the heading of the BOE.