The Circumstances Of Your Theft Determine Your Penalties

In California, three types of theft exist that impose strict punishments on those convicted. Theft, or larceny, as well as robbery and burglary all constitute severe crimes, but the circumstances of the alleged crime will determine an individual’s charge and associated penalties. Should you face conviction of theft, robbery or burglary, you must immediately seek the expertise of an attorney. These acts can imprison you or put you in significant debt, and you want to ensure you have the best defense of your actions in court.

The difference between theft, robbery and burglary

Taking another’s property may bring severe punishment, but the punishments depend on the situation in which you allegedly committed the action.


For a court to inflict penalties related to theft, it must prove that you committed the following acts knowingly against another’s property:

  • Steal
  • Carry
  • Lead or drive away
  • Defraud
  • Falsely represent

A court will determine the value of the items stolen, so that it can inflict the following punishments:

  1. Felony charge: Imprisonment for up to one year if the property is worth over $950; or
  2. Misdemeanor charge: Imprisonment for up to one year the property is less than $950


Robbery exists when you use force or a threat of force to obtain property not belonging to you. Those that use weapons as a means to steal may prove subject to the following penalties.

  1. First-degree robbery: Three, six or nine years in prison if the act happened in a home; or
  2. Second-degree robbery: Two, three or five years in all other circumstances


Burglary is committed when an individual enters a locked home or other dwelling and attempts to steal property inside. Criminals committing burglary may find themselves subject to:

  1. First-degree burglary: Two, four or six years in jail if the home is inhabited; or
  2. Second-degree burglary: One year in jail if no individual is inside the property

No individual should take another’s property, but those attempting to steal want to refrain from using force or entering a home where victims are present. These types of robbery and burglary offenses can bring serious punishments, and they prove more difficult to defend in court. Yet for the best criminal defense, you must hire an attorney versus attempting to represent yourself, or you may end up receiving maximum penalties for a theft crime.

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