The term “theft crimes” encompasses several different offenses. The three most notable are robbery, larceny, and burglary. Although many people are familiar with what these crimes are, they may not be aware of the characteristics that distinguish them. The terms “robbery” and “burglary” are often used interchangeably, even though they contain very different elements. Robbery involves force or fear, while burglary (and larceny) does not. Because robbery is considered a more serious crime, it carries stiffer penalties than the other two.
What Distinguishes Robbery, Burglary, and Larceny?
Robbery, burglary, and larceny can each involve taking someone else’s property. However, that’s generally where their similarities end. The offenses are separated by how a person commits the theft. We compare the elements of each crime below.
Robbery involves taking another person’s property without their consent. The same is true of larceny. With burglary, stealing something that belonged to someone else is not required, though this conduct can be present in the offense.
What differentiates the misappropriation of property for each offense is how it is done. For a theft to rise to the level of robbery, the person must have accomplished the act using force or fear. The purpose of the force or fear must have been to take the item or prevent the individual whose property is being taken from resisting. It’s not robbery if the force or fear was used only to intimidate the other individual as the actor was trying to escape.
Causing fear in the alleged victim means that the actor threatened or actually caused injury to the other individual, their property, or a member of their family. It can also be a threat to harm someone the alleged victim was with at the time of the offense.
The level of force or fear threatened or used does not matter. In other words, whether the actor said that they were going to hit the alleged victim or actually shoved them, the conduct would still be considered robbery.
In contrast, larceny does not involve the use of force or fear against the alleged victim. Instead, the theft is accomplished by fraud or stealth. Thus, the alleged victim might not feel that they or anyone else is in danger of being harmed.
Burglary is a bit different from robbery and larceny. The offense consists of entering a home or other structure with the intent to commit a crime while there. Although the conduct the burglar engages in could be theft, such an act is not necessary for the behavior to be considered burglary.
The statute for first-degree burglary provides that a violation is committed when a person “breaks into and enters” another’s home “with the intent to commit some crime therein.” Second-degree burglary is defined similarly: breaking and entering into a home or other building “with the intent to steal any property or to commit any felony.” Although second-degree burglary specifically states “intent to steal,” this is not the only way the offense can be committed.
How Much Time Can You Get for Robbery and Other Theft Crimes?
The prison or jail term depends on the offense committed and the specific conduct engaged in.
First-degree robbery involves:
- Causing or threatening to cause serious bodily injury,
- Making the alleged victim fear serious bodily injury, or
- Committing or threatening to commit a felony against the alleged victim.
The crime is punishable by at least 10 years of imprisonment. If none of the elements listed above are present, the offense is second-degree robbery, penalized by up to 10 years of imprisonment.
Larceny is separated into grand theft and petit theft, with the former being punished harsher than the latter.
Grand theft consists of taking property:
- Valued at $1,000 or more or
- Directly from the owner, regardless of the value of the item.
The grand theft punishments depend on the property's type or value. This is different from robbery in that the item's value does not matter. The 10-year minimum or maximum can be imposed regardless of what the property is worth.
In grand theft cases, the potential penalties include the following:
- Up to 2 years of imprisonment if the property was:
- One or more firearms,
- Taken directly from the alleged victim, or
- Valued between $1,000 and less than $2,500
- Up to 5 years of imprisonment if the property was:
- Valued between $2,500 but less than $15,000
- Up to 8 years of imprisonment if the property was:
- Valued at $15,000 or more
Petit theft occurs when the property taken was valued at less than $1,000. In that instance, the term of incarceration is not more than 6 months.
Like robbery, the possible punishments for burglary do not depend on the property value. Generally, it depends on whether a person was present at the time of the offense. If an individual entered a dwelling when someone was home, they commit first-degree burglary, punishable by 7 to 20 years of imprisonment. If no one was there, the person commits second-degree burglary, carrying a prison term of up to 7 years.
Contact an Attorney for Your Case
If you have been charged with robbery, larceny, or burglary, reach out to a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. They can review the facts of your case, determine paths forward, and develop and deliver a tailored strategy for you.
To schedule a consultation with an attorney in Norman, contact the Law Offices of Keith J. Nedwick, P.C. at (866) 590-8173.