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What’s the Difference Between Theft, Robbery, and Burglary?

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December 2, 2020  |  Posted by Balboa Bail Bonds Team  |  Theft

Theft, robbery, and burglary are often used interchangeably in the media, as well as during casual conversation. However, the three crimes are actually different under California law, and result in drastically different penalties. If you have been arrested for any of these three, it is important to know what makes the crimes so different, and what it means if you have been charged with robbery or with theft.

What Is Theft?

There are two types of theft under California law: petty theft and grand theft. Petty theft involves stealing any objects valued at under $950. The charge becomes grand theft when the stolen objects, together, are worth more than $950. A crime is considered “theft” when you take something that does not belong to you. This can be from a store, a home, or even along the side of the road. However, it does not require person-to-person contact. All you have to do to commit a theft crime is physically carry away something that doesn’t belong to you.

In California, those charged with petty theft face:

  • Up to six months in county jail
  • A fine of up to $1,000

On the other hand, those charged with grand theft might be punished with:

  • Up to one year in county jail
  • A fine of up to $1,000

What Is Robbery?

Unlike theft, robbery does require person-to-person contact. While this crime still involves the taking of property that does not belong to you, it also involves the extra element of the use of force. While covertly snagging a purse set down on a bench would be theft, walking up to that person, showing her you have a weapon, and demanding the purse would be robbery. Because robbery involves the threat of force and violence, it is often considered a far more serious crime than theft. Those charged with robbery can expect the following penalties:

  • Between three to six years in state prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000

What Is Burglary?

While burglary, like robbery, is a theft crime, there are certain conditions that must be met in order for a charge of burglary to stick. Burglary involves the act of breaking into someone else’s property with the intention of committing a crime. As with theft, there are two different kinds of burglary. The first is first-degree, or residential burglary. This is when you break into someone’s private property or home. The second is second-degree, or commercial, burglary, which is when the building that was broken into was not someone’s home. For example, breaking into a school or store would be considered commercial burglary.

If you are convicted of residential burglary, your penalties may include:

  • Between two to six years in state prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000

If you are convicted of commercial burglary, you may be facing:

  • Between 16 months to three years in county jail
  • A fine of between $1,000 and $10,000

What Happens After My Arrest?

If you have been arrested for theft, robbery, or burglary, you are likely in a state of panic and shock. The most important next step is to work on an airtight defense with your attorney. But any good attorney will tell you that it’s hard to build a case behind bars. That is why you need to get out of jail as soon as possible, and back home to your family and support system. For an affordable way to pay bail, call Balboa Bail Bonds at (619) 760-2222 today.