If you have been accused of stealing or “permanently borrowing without
permission” something in the state of New York, it helps being able
to understand the details of your charges. While the concept of
theft seems pretty straightforward, the action of stealing can actually be separated
into several different categories, each with its own definition and potential
penalties upon conviction. To give you a basic understanding of the differences
among the charges, we discuss them in more detail below. If you know you
need legal assistance now regarding theft charges, you are encouraged to
contact the Law Office of Kevin P. O'Donnell and speak to our Queens criminal
defense attorney today.
Top 5 Most Common Forms of Theft Crimes
(presented in no particular order)
Shoplifting: Sometimes called petty theft, shoplifting is often regarded as a
juvenile crime due to the fact that most perpetrators are younger than 18. As long as
an item is valued under $1,000 – or essentially everything that
could be stolen from a retail store or convenience stop – it could
be considered petty theft. Penalties are generally minimal, especially
if the item is valued under $100.
Burglary: The stealing of an item while unlawfully trespassing upon an empty property.
Burglary conjures up images of a cat burglar sneaking through the night
to take a valuable piece of jewelry from a museum after hours, or to crack
into the safe of an assumedly-empty abode, due to the fact that burglary
is often categorized by a lack of violence. If a weapon or violence is
involved, it is often re-categorized as robbery. Penalties for burglary
in the lesser degree could include 7 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Robbery: Typically defined as the forceful taking of a piece of property or currency
directly from a person or while the victim is present and aware of the
theft. The introduction of a weapon, which could be a blade, firearm,
blunt instrument, and so on, will escalate the charges to armed robbery,
which is often considered a felony violation by default. Penalties upon
conviction, if a felony, will include at least one year in prison.
Fraud: Sometimes called a
white collar crime, fraud is defined as the organized attempt to take money, finances, or
funds from someone through deception. It is now more typical for fraud
to take place over the internet or through digital means than in person,
such as with check fraud. Credit card theft and identity theft are also
considered forms of fraud.
Embezzlement: Also a white collar crime, embezzlement is the act of taking funds entrusted
to you for a specific purpose and using it for a different purpose, especially
if it is done for personal gain. For example, if you were given control
over a company’s payroll department and began writing yourself paychecks
that paid you more than you had rightfully earned, you would be committing
small scale embezzlement. In many cases, embezzling is filed against CEOs
that reallocate millions of investor money for their own expenses.