Theft and stealing are indeed two separate offenses. In this case, stealing and shoplifting are synonymous. Stealing focuses on the intent to steal, while theft deals with the actual taking of property. Stealing deals only in commercial establishments, while theft deals with the general appropriation of someone else’s property.
In California, to be guilty of theft (also called larceny), a defendant needs to have moved the property to commit the offense, even if that movement is over a small distance. They must also have kept the property in question. Stealing is a different matter. Since intent is the main factor in shoplifting, property need not be moved or kept for an accused shoplifter to have committed the offense.
What are Burglary and Robbery?
Robbery is the most serious type of crime that involves taking, or intending to take, property that does not belong to you. To have committed the crime of robbery, you must take someone else’s property from that person’s immediate presence, using either force or fear. For example, mugging someone with a weapon would be robbery.
Burglary is an offense that sometimes involves stealing and sometimes does not. It occurs when someone enters a building already has the intent to steal or commit a felony.
Some crimes combine portions of these crimes. If you enter a home with the intent to take property from inside, which you then do, you have committed both burglary and theft. If you are confronted and threatened to harm or actively harm the homeowner, robbery is added to the list. In fact, if you do the same to a commercial establishment, you would be guilty of all four offenses mentioned.
What are the Penalties for Different Types of Theft or Stealing?
Stealing, theft, and burglary are all wobbler offenses, meaning that they can either be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the specifics of the case. Robbery, on the other hand, is always a felony.
For theft and stealing, the main factor in determining the severity of the charge is whether the value of what was taken exceeds $950. Any prior conviction of theft or for a serious or violent offense also adds to the likelihood of being charged with a felony.
What Can I Do if I Have Been Charged with Theft or Stealing?
There are a number of different defenses that can be used if you are accused of theft or stealing. One of the most common is to argue that the defendant had a good-faith belief that they owned the property or were otherwise legally allowed to possess it.
This is just one possible defense, and a good lawyer is what you need to give you the best strategy. For any questions about theft or stealing and for the expert legal help you need, call us today at (562) 462-9233.