What is Theft?
The definition of theft is relatively simple; it refers to the act of taking another person’s property without their permission. Theft is often used as an umbrella term to describe similar crimes, such as burglary, larceny, and even robbery. However, these other crimes have their own distinct differences as well. For example, burglary differs from theft in the sense that it requires a person to take another person’s belongings using force. Still, it is a type of theft—and many would argue that it’s the most severe form of theft due to the fact that it involves threatening or even hurting the victim in order to illegally obtain the property.
Differences Between Theft and Larceny
It is important to understand the differences between the crimes of larceny and theft, which are often used interchangeably but are different in a lot of ways. For starters, it is worth noting that theft is the broader of the two terms, and larceny can be considered a form of theft (as described above).
When a person commits theft, it is understood that they stole another person’s belongings with the intent to use resell those belongings to make money. Another important distinction to keep in mind is that theft can apply to non-tangible objects just as much as it can apply to physical objects. For instance, a criminal could steal and use another person’s personal information (such as credit card numbers or social security numbers) without their permission. This would be referred to as identity theft.
Larceny, on the other hand, refers to a situation where a person steals something from another person with the sole purpose of using it for themselves (as opposed to selling it). For example, if a person might steal a gaming console from another person with the intent to use it for themselves.
No matter what the situation, an action is considered theft if a person steals something that’s not theirs. However, the severity of the charge can vary based on the total value of the item(s) stolen. For example, many courts recognize theft of anything less than $500 in value as petty theft or petty larceny.
Possible Legal Penalties and Consequences
In Arizona, theft of anything worth less than $1,000 in total is categorized as a misdemeanor, which carries up to six months in jail. Theft of anything between $1,000 and $2,000 in value is a class 6 felony and could result in up to two years of prison time. This can go all the way up to a class 2 felony with penalties being up to 12.5 years in prison.
A misdemeanor or felony theft charge will remain on a person’s criminal record for the rest of their lives, resulting in difficulties getting a job and even getting approved for loans. Therefore, if you or somebody you know has been charged with any form of theft, it’s in your best interest to speak with a qualified attorney as soon as possible.