To most people, the crimes of robbery, burglary and theft sound like they could be interchangeable. While these three offenses do have some similar aspects, under California law the elements of each crime and the potential penalties are vastly different.
Robbery is defined as a theft offense which involves using physical force, fear, threats, intimidation or other violent means of obtaining property, money or goods from another person against their will. Under California law, robbery is a serious violent offense, punishable by imprisonment from two to nine years in a state prison and a "strike" on your criminal record.
Unlike robbery, theft is a non-violent crime, meaning that no force or fear was used when stealing property. Any person who steals, takes, carries, leads, or drives away the personal property of another individual or establishment can be charged with theft. If the value of the stolen property is under $400, the crime is considered petty theft, which is a misdemeanor and punishable by up to 6 months in a county jail. If the value of the stolen property is over $400, it is considered grand theft, which is a felony and has a penalty of up to three years in prison.
Burglary is the unlawful entry of a building, either a home or business, for the purpose of committing a criminal offense, usually theft. It only requires entering into a property with the intention of committing a criminal offense, whether or not that crime actually occurred is not a factor in determining guilt. Depending upon the specific charges, you may face serious penalties of up to 6 years or more in prison and a "strike" on your criminal record.
If you or someone you know has been charged with robbery, burglary or theft, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Robert M. Bernstein for a free consultation today.