Theft. Larceny, Burglary. Robbery. These crimes might all seem as if they are relatively equal, but the truth is that they are not. While most of these crimes involve taking someone’s property from them, that isn’t always the case. In fact, only two of the terms mentioned refer to the exact same crime.
Understanding the difference between these crimes is crucial since they are weighted very differently. Today, we’ll be answering some of the most common questions about theft and burglary, as well as explaining what makes each of them unique.
Understanding the Differences Between Robbery, Burglary, Theft, and Larceny
The first thing you should know is that theft is also known by names like petty theft, larceny, grand theft, and others depending on your location and how the crime was carried out. It also happens to be one of the most common crimes. Committing a theft involves taking someone else’s property without their consent and to permanently deprive the owner of its possession or use.
So now that you understand that larceny and theft are essentially the same thing, let’s talk a bit about robbery. During a theft, someone takes something that doesn’t belong to them. Robbery involves taking something from another person using force or the threat of force in order to get it. It is considered a violent crime even if the victim doesn’t suffer a physical injury.
In many cases, a burglary has a theft component to it, but taking someone else’s property isn’t required to be convicted of this crime. A burglary involves entering a dwelling or structure with the intent to commit a crime inside. Someone could be convicted of burglary even if they did not commit a crime in the building. The offense that was intended to be undertaken also does not have to be robbery or theft.
What is the Difference Between Shoplifting and Larceny?
It really depends on your location if a distinction is made between larceny or theft and shoplifting on a legal level. However, shoplifting involves taking goods from a store without paying for them, so it differs in some ways from taking something from an individual. A shoplifting crime may include the following:
- Taking knowing possession of or walking away with merchandise that was for sale at a retail place of business.
- Doing the above without the consent or knowledge of the retail merchant.
- Completing the above actions with an intent to keep the merchandise or to deprive the merchant of it.
- Engaging in each of the above without paying the purchase price for the merchandise.
Hiding merchandise can also be an element of the shoplifting crime. Some states have a separate offense like “willful concealment” involving merchandise that may apply. This would apply in a situation where a defendant is attempting to conceal merchandise while still standing on the premises of a retail establishment.
What Are the Different Types of Theft?
There are several different types of theft, including shoplifting. Theft or larceny means taking and removing someone’s property without their permission with an intent to deprive the owner of it. However, some statutes are in place to distinguish different kinds of theft.
The most significant distinction is seen between petty theft and grand theft. Grand theft is considered a more severe offense, and a crime may be categorized this way for a number of reasons. Many states consider theft a grand theft is the following apply:
- The taken property is worth more than a specified minimum amount, often $500 to $1,000 or even more (the number is $950 in California for most types of property).
- The taken property was removed from a person directly but without fear or force (which would classify the crime as a robbery). This might include pickpocketing someone who was not suspecting it.
- The property taken was a specific sort. As an example, theft of cars and some kinds of animals is considered grand theft no matter what the market value for the taken item is.
Theft can also involve lost property is the person who found it could reasonably return it to the person who owns it. An example would be if someone were to find a $20 on a sidewalk as they were cycling and pick it up. This is not considered theft. However, it could be regarded as theft of lost property if this same cyclist saw someone drop the money, took it anyway, and did not attempt to return it to them.
Another type of theft involves keeping or buying stolen property. In order to be convicted of this crime, it must be proven that the property the defendant possessed was both stolen and known by the defendant to be stolen. In most cases, circumstantial evidence is used to establish the defendant was in the appropriate state-of-mind to do this.
What is the Average Sentence for Larceny in California?
Larceny and theft laws are found in California Penal Code Sections 484 and 487. Those who are convicted of petty larceny may face fines of up to $1,000, a jail sentence of up to six months, or both of these things. When it comes to grand larceny, the crime can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. The former can result in up to a one-year jail sentence, while felony grand larceny can carry a penalty of up to three years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
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Theft or larceny, robbery, and burglary are all crimes, but they do not mean the same thing. Some kinds of theft are considered more severe than others and may lead to higher fines and more extended amounts of jail time. Having possession of stolen property or shoplifting from a retail store can also be considered theft.
There is a lot of complication with the law, so those who have been charged with a crime should always consult with an attorney. Only an expert can provide you with all the information you need in your specific situation.
If you’ve been arrested for a Theft or Burglary and are in need of legal assistance, call (844) 285-9559 to request a free consultation for your case.