If you’re not a lawyer yourself, you might assume that theft and burglary are two words that are used to describe the same crime. After all, both involve stealing. However, there are some important distinctions between the two crimes—including the penalties. Here’s how to tell the difference between the two. As always, if you’ve been accused of a crime, make sure you retain a burglary or theft criminal defense attorney in Lubbock, TX.
Theft is what it sounds like: unlawfully acquiring property with the intent to deprive the owner of that property. “Unlawfully acquiring” includes deception or otherwise intentionally taking property without the owner’s full and informed consent.
Theft ranges in scale. For example, stealing $10 from a coworker and stealing a car are both types of theft. The difference is in how the crimes are punished. Anything worth less than $100 is considered a Class C misdemeanor and can be punished with a fine of up to $500. The penalties increase depending on the circumstances of the crime as well as how valuable the stolen property was. Theft of property worth more than $300,000 is a first-degree felony, which is punishable by jail time and fines.
The most important part to remember is that theft doesn’t include an element of force or fear (that’s robbery). It could be as simple as rummaging through someone’s purse or lying to them so they’ll give you money.
Burglary involves entering a building with the intent to commit theft, assault or another felony. Generally, we think of burglars as people who break into a building to steal valuable items. However, burglary doesn’t necessarily require theft. You can be charged with burglary if you committed or attempted to commit a different felony. The key element is entering a building or habitation. It doesn’t matter if you were successful in stealing anything or committing another felony—all that matters is your intent and the fact that you entered the building to achieve those objectives.
Burglary punishments range from a state jail felony to a first-degree felony, depending on the specific circumstances of the crime.
Robbery is another easily confused crime. As noted earlier, the difference between robbery and theft is that robbery involves an element of “force or fear.” That’s often a threat, like “I’ll kill you if you don’t give me the money,” but it might also include physically harming someone. If you beat someone up to get their money, that’s considered robbery, not theft. It’s also possible to commit both robbery and theft when burgling a place.
If you have been accused of any of these crimes, it’s crucial that you refuse to speak to the police before you enlist the services of an attorney. Speaking to the police could get you in worse trouble than if you had let your attorney handle the problem to begin with.
To work with an experienced theft and burglary criminal defense attorney in Lubbock, TX, call The Law Office of Rob Biggers today.
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Categorised in: Criminal Law