The act of taking something that isn’t yours is often referred to as “stealing,” but when it comes to legal terms, the words “robbery” and “theft” are not interchangeable with stealing. Though you might think the two terms mean the same thing, they are separate crimes under California law. That is why it is important to understand the difference between robbery and theft if you are accused of either of these crimes.
The Use of Force and Fear in Robbery
Under California Penal Code Section 484, theft is committed when you obtain possession of another person’s property or money with the intent of permanently depriving the owner of that property.
Robbery is defined as the felonious taking of another’s personal property, from their person or immediate possession, and done against their will through the use of force or fear under California Penal Code Section 211.
The most important thing differentiating theft from robbery is the use of force or fear. For instance, threatening another person with a weapon or attempting to use physical force to take that person’s property is considered robbery. Slipping jewelry into your purse at a department store and leaving is considered theft because there was no force or threat of force used in the taking of the property.
The other main difference between these two crimes is the penalties they carry.
Penalties for Theft and Robbery
The crime of theft consists of two types: petty theft and grand theft. If the value of the property you stole is $950 or more, you could be charged with grand theft. If the value is less, you will likely face petty theft charges.
Petty theft carries a sentence of up to six months in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Grand theft is a “wobbler” offense, meaning it can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor. Misdemeanor grand theft charges carry up to 364 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, while felony grand theft is punishable by up to three years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
A conviction for robbery is more severe, but it is also divided into two degrees. First degree robbery is typically charged when it occurred within an inhabited dwelling such as a home or hotel room. All other types of robbery are considered second degree robbery.
If you are convicted of first degree robbery, you face up to six years in state prison. Second degree robbery carries a sentence of up to five years in prison. You could also face additional penalties based on the factors of your case, including whether a weapon was involved in the commission of the crime.
A robbery conviction will also result in a strike on your record under California’s Three Strikes law.
Contact the Robbery Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or a loved one is facing charges of robbery or theft, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your case immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our criminal defense lawyers have over 35 years of experience successfully defending our clients facing robbery and theft-related charges. Let us help you now.
With offices in Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino, Torrance, Victorville and West Covina, you can find a dedicated Wallin & Klarich robbery attorney to help you no matter where you are located.
Call us now at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.