You might think that theft, robbery, and burglary are the same. In reality,
these terms refer to three
criminal offenses with different penalties. These offenses are generally “property
crimes,” but only share a few similarities.
California’s Theft Law
Also called “larceny” or “petty theft,” theft happens
when a person intentionally takes another individual’s property
with the intention of stealing it. California statutes differentiate between
two forms of theft:
petty theft and
Generally speaking, grand theft is theft of property worth more than $950.
Penalties for theft vary. In most cases, theft is punishable by a $1,000
fine and six months in jail. If the stolen property is worth less than
$50, this fine may be reduced to $250, depending on the defendant’s
prior criminal history.
Robbery vs. Theft
Much like theft,
robbery occurs when a person steals someone else’s property; however, robbery
involves an additional factor: force. By definition, robbery is a more
serious offense than theft because it involves the use of intimidation
or physical force to take the victim’s property. Additionally, the
defendant must take the property from the victim’s immediate person
In California, there are two types of robbery:
- First degree
- Second degree
First degree robbery occurs in a building, residence, or dwelling. Second
degree robbery, on the other hand, is any form of robbery that doesn’t
meet the qualifications for a first degree crime and is punishable by
two, three, or five years in prison.
Understanding Burglary Laws in California
Unlike robbery and theft, a person can commit
burglary without actually taking someone else’s belongings. Burglary typically
involves theft, but the two crimes are not always linked. In order to
commit burglary, a person must unlawfully enter a structure with the intent
to commit a crime.
By law, the defendant doesn’t actually have to commit a crime; he
/she only must enter the building unlawfully and with the intention of
committing a crime.