Many laypeople use the terms “robbery,” “burglary” and “theft” interchangeably. Legally, they’re not the same. Establishing which of the three offenses a defendant may have committed is critical for developing a solid criminal defense.
California theft penalties
For theft of anything valued up to $950, California allows for a misdemeanor county jail sentence of up to six months and a fine up to $1,000. Theft of anything valued over $950 is called “grand theft” and may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If it’s charged as a felony, the defendant can be sentenced to up to three years in a state prison.
California burglary penalties
Burglary in California occurs when a person enters a property with the intent to commit a felony or misdemeanor theft. Second-degree burglary is when the target is an automobile or a commercial entity. This can be punished with a jail sentence of up to three years. First-degree burglary is when the target is a private residence; in this case, the sentence can be up to six years in either jail or prison.
California robbery penalties
Robbery in California is a violent crime involving coercion or force to steal property directly from an individual. This is the most serious of the three offenses. First-degree robbery is applied when someone is robbed in a motor vehicle, within an inhabited structure or within the vicinity of an ATM. This is punishable by six to nine years in prison. All other robberies are second-degree and can draw sentences of up to five years in state prison.
If you’ve been accused of one of these crimes, you’ll want a defense team to help you avoid the most severe penalties. An attorney may be able to ensure that any allegation against you isn’t improperly categorized as a more serious crime.