In everyday language, words like “robbery” and “burglary” get thrown around a lot, without much attention to what their strict legal definitions are. This is fine for kids who want to play “cops and robbers,” but in the legal profession, you have to be a bit more precise.
This is particularly true when you find yourself accused of one of the most common “property crimes,” as they’re called: theft, robbery, or burglary.
So what exactly is the difference between these three, and what are the potential consequences in Oklahoma?
Theft in Oklahoma
Theft is the most wide-reaching legal term out of the three. “Petit larceny,” or petty theft, can be as mild as shoplifting lipstick from the corner store, while grand larceny can include fraud or embezzlement in the millions.
Depending on the value of what was stolen, the penalties for theft can be equally disparate. As long as you didn’t steal anything worth more than $1,000, you’re probably going to just be charged with a misdemeanor.
Theft in Oklahoma worth more than $1,000, however, is a felony punishable by as many as 5 years in prison.
Robbery in Oklahoma
Robbery is distinguishable from regular theft by the use of force. If you used force or the threat of force to intimidate someone into giving you their valuables, you’re guilty of robbery.
For example, grabbing somebody’s purse while they’re not looking is theft, but pointing a gun at them and taking their purse by force is an example of robbery.
Armed robbery is the example that we most commonly think of when we think about robbery. It is one of the most serious property offenses, and is punishable by a minimum of 5 years in prison.
However, you don’t have to be carrying a gun in order to be guilty of robbery. Any use of force or threat of force can be enough to qualify you as guilty of robbery.
Burglary in Oklahoma
The final crime that is often confused with these other two is burglary. The defining feature of burglary is that it involves illegally entering someone else’s private property. If you’re not breaking and entering into somewhere in order to commit your property crime, then you’re probably not guilty of burglary.
Burglary can actually include crimes outside of theft, as well. The key is that the person illegally entered the property with the intent to commit a felony– whether that’s stealing, vandalism, or assault.
First degree burglary, which occurs when you illegally enter someone else’s dwelling while they’re still inside, can be punishable by up to 20 years in Oklahoma.
What to do if I’ve been accused of robbery, burglary, or theft in Oklahoma
Now that you are well-informed about the differences between these three crimes, you can probably identify which one you are being charged with. So your next question is probably, “What do I do about it?”
The most important thing you can do is hire an experienced defense attorney. Some of these crimes are punishable with pretty hefty prison sentences, so you’ll need someone with the experience and knowledge to keep you from being put away for years.
The next thing you can do is comply with the courts in any way possible, while still exercising your rights as the accused. Comply with any arrest warrants, prepare to pay your bail, and make sure you attend all your court dates.
Hire a defense attorney in Oklahoma City
The nitty gritty details that differentiate one law from another can be pretty confusing sometimes. Don’t let the courts take advantage of this confusion– make sure you have an experienced defense attorney at your side throughout the whole criminal process. Jacqui Ford Law can help. Contact us today.