As you may have realized, words that are exchangeable in common English can mean very different things when defined legally. We might use any of the words “ theft,” “ robbery,” or “burglary” to describe an act of stealing. However, in legal terms these are three different charges with different consequences. Even the most minor degrees of the following charges can have you facing very serious penalties. You should always clarify with your attorney the definition and implication of legal terms, and be sure that you fully understand what you are being held to.
- Theft- Theft or “larceny” is when someone intentionally takes something of value (although “value” is a very flexible term in this context, e.g. personal sentiment is a form of value) from someone else, and plans on keeping it. By doing this the thief is denying the rightful owner rightful ownership. Theft is defined as a nonviolent and non-forceful act. In Texas the severity of the punishment is determined by the monetary value of what was stolen. Anything over $200,000 is a first degree felony, but anything under $50 is still a Class C misdemeanor.
- Burglary- Burglary is larceny with an added element of trespassing. “Breaking and entering” is one of the necessary characteristics of burglary. A thief must unlawfully enter a property, and knowingly remove something that doesn’t belong to them with the intention of depriving its owner ownership to be charged with burglary. The owner of a property must not have given any form of consent for the thief to enter for it to be considered trespassing. Although breaking is usually said to mean removing something to enter a property or doing so forcefully (e.g. breaking a window), walking in through an open door can constitute breaking so long as the owner of that property did not extend consent. The degree of punishment varies depending on different things including whether or not force was used or there was a plan to use force. For instance, if you enter carrying a weapon the punishment will be more severe.
- Robbery- Robbery is larceny that involves violence or force. For it to be considered robbery it must be taken off the victim’s person. It’s robbery if the victim would have been able to prevent larceny (or at least attempt to prevent larceny) if the thief had not used force. Intimidation is a form of force. For instance telling a victim that you’re carrying a weapon even if you aren’t is using intimidation as force. Anything that is done to purposefully create fear in the victim so that they may comply with the larceny is considered intimidation. Most charges of robbery are identified as either simple or aggravated. The main difference being that aggravated robbery usually involves a deadly weapon.
Having robbery, burglary or theft held against you is a serious issue. You need legal support willing to fight for you immediately. Call the lawyers of Carroll Troberman, PLLC of Austin Texas when you’re in a legal bind.