Being the victim of a theft or robbery is a stressful experience, and knowing how to get your belongings back is even worse. However, if you don’t know the difference between theft and a robbery, you may struggle to make a case for yourself.
What is the difference between theft and robbery and why is the difference important?
If you find yourself needing to place theft or robbery charges, you should know some important legal terminology. Here are the definitions of theft and robbery and why the distinction is important.
Theft involves taking something from an individual without consent and refusing to let them use it again. This deprives the individual of their own property. Usually, money or smaller items are stolen rather than property, and the owner is unaware that anything has been taken.
There are many different ways that theft is done. This can include:
- Theft of a vehicle
- Identify theft
- Credit card theft
There are three main classifications for theft; petty theft, misdemeanor theft, and felony theft. The difference between the three classifications is the value of the item(s) that were stolen. Each type of theft also comes with its own form of punishment.
Petty theft involves the theft of items that were valued below $100. For a case of petty theft, the perpetrator can face up to 90 days in jail as well as a $100 fine.
Misdemeanor theft involves the theft of items that are valued between $100 and $1,000. This type of theft is more serious, and the person responsible can face up to 18 months in prison as well as a $500 fine.
Finally, felony theft involves the theft of items that are valued at $1,000 to $10,000. This type of theft can lead to up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.
While theft is a crime committed without the knowledge of the victim, robbery is considered a violent crime. During a robbery, a victim is often threatened to give up their belongings through force. The victim does not have to be injured in order for the incident to be considered a robbery; rather, the victim’s possessions must be taken by the robber.
Jail time for a robbery is much more straightforward than that of theft. The persecutor can face between 15 to 20 years in prison, depending on whether or not a weapon was used.
What is the Main Difference?
While robbery and theft both involve an individual stealing property or money from someone else, there is a stark difference between the two. Theft is often performed without the knowledge of the victim; a robbery, however, is performed when an individual forcefully takes possessions or money from their victim.
There is one other big difference between theft and robbery. A thief can steal possessions without ever knowing their victim. All they need is the motivation to steal from an individual or company for it to be considered a theft.
During a robbery, the robber must make contact with their victim in a show of force. If there is not a victim present, then a crime cannot be considered a robbery.
Why is Knowing the Difference Important?
You may be wondering now why knowing the difference between a robbery and a theft is important. After all, they both involve someone taking your property from you, which is what you want to resolve. However, the importance lies in how the criminal is charged.
Because there is so much discrepancy when it comes to theft, the punishment they receive is based solely on what the perpetrator stole. That means if all the thief stole was small, invaluable items, they will get off with very little punishment. They would need to steal a lot of valuables in order to be given a felony charge.
Meanwhile, a robbery is always considered a felony due to its violent nature. The value of the items taken isn’t what’s important- the fact that you were threatened in order to give up those items is what matters.
If you were to accidentally charge the perpetrator with theft instead of with robbery charges, they may get off the hook lightly. If you want the criminal to face proper consequences for their actions, you need to specify that it was a robbery, not a simple theft.
It is also important to know the difference between theft and robbery if you are being accused of either. After all, one could result in a small fine and the other is a felony that leads to over a decade behind bars. If you want to defend yourself, you need to know what you are being accused of.
When to Hire an Attorney for Robbery Charges
Once you’ve determined whether the stolen goods were a result of theft or robbery, it’s time to consider hiring a theft attorney. They can help turn your legal trouble into a successful case. Not only can they help a victim get justice for a crime, but they can also help those wrongly accused avoid unjust jail time.
You don’t have to face your legal issues alone. If you are finding yourself being wrongly accused of theft or robbery, you need to hire a lawyer to help you right away.
Get a Criminal Defense Attorney Today
In order to protect yourself against robbery charges, you need to know exactly what the charges mean. That way, you can hire a lawyer who knows how to help you best. If you find yourself in legal trouble, don’t hesitate to find a lawyer to work with you!
Have you or someone you know been wrongly accused of theft or robbery? What did you do to resolve the situation?
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