Martin & Kent, L.L.C. Martin & Kent, L.L.C.

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Theft, Larceny, and Burglary: What's the Difference

Before starting the defense process, it is vital for people to understand the exact nature of the charges that they're facing. Without this understanding, it will be more difficult for individuals to communicate with their attorneys about how best to defend against outstanding charges. 

Many broad criminal charges, like "stealing" may be broken up into more specific and complex sets of charges. For example, instead of charging an individual with "stealing," that individual may be charged with misdemeanor theft, felony theft, larceny or burglary.  The differences between such charges can significantly impact the criminal defense process. 

What is a Misdemeanor Theft?

While all of these crimes involve the taking of something with the intent of keeping it, the difference rests in the details. In Illinois, the difference depends on the dollar amount of the item taken. If the object or property stolen was less than $500 in value, the criminal charge is a Class A misdemeanor theft. A conviction can result in up to imprisonment for one year and up to a $2,500 fine for each offense. These penalties are subject to negotiation based on the defense attorney and any prior criminal record.

What is a Felony Theft?

There are different classes of felony theft that all depend on the dollar amount, the prior record, and the circumstances of the crime. In addition to returning the stolen property, the differences are discussed below:

Class 4 Felony Theft: In this class, the value is up to $500 and the item was taken from a place of worship or a school. The punishment is 1 to 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.

Class 3 Felony Theft: A class 3 felony theft is the theft of any property that has a value between $500 to $10,000. The prison time for this crime is 2 to 5 years and the fine is up to $25,000

Class 2 Felony Theft: Class 2 felony theft is still between $500 to $10,000; however, the property was stolen from a school or a place of worship. The fine is still up to $25,000 but the prison time is 3 to 5 years.

Class 1 Felony Theft: Now, the value is between $10,000 and $100,000 from a place of worship or a school OR the value was between $100,000 and $500,000 anywhere. The punishment is a fine of up to $25,000 and a prison sentence of between 4 and 15 years.

Class 1 Felony Theft, Non-Probationary: The property stolen is valued between $500,000 and $1 million. The fine is the same as class 1; however, the prison time can extend up to 30 years.

Class X Felony Theft: If the property stolen was over $1 million, this is the term used. The prison sentence is between 6 and 30 years and the fine is up to $25,000

Clearly, there is room to negotiate on the type of charge and the penalties of a conviction. This is why it is important to hire an experienced legal attorney to assist with the defense process. With the aid of an attorney, charges could be dropped or reduced. In addition, an experienced defense strategy may result in less severe potential penalties in the event of a conviction or guilty plea. 

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