Theft Crimes: Home Invasion, Robbery, & Burglary

“Theft” is a more general term that can refer to a family of crimes including embezzlement, shoplifting, purse-snatching, fraud (including welfare fraud), as well as looting, robbery, and burglary. Larceny is sometimes considered a theft crime, as well; in fact, in California, the once-separate concepts of larceny and theft have essentially merged.

These crimes involve the taking of property from another person, with the intent to permanently deprive them of their property.

California Penal Code sections 484 (general larceny/theft statute), 486 (difference between petty theft and grand theft), 487 (grand theft), 488 (petty theft), 489 (punishment for grand theft), and 490 (punishment for petty theft) deal with the basic larceny/theft crimes.

Burglaries are covered by Penal Code sections 459 (defining burglary) and 460 (degrees of burglary). Proposition 47 created the new code section, Penal Code section 459.5, which now covers shoplifting. Prior to Proposition 47, shoplifting, along with several other theft-related crimes, were charged as felonies.

Robbery, covered by Penal Code section 211 and 213, can be a first-degree crime punishable by up to 6 years in prison, or a second-degree crime, with a maximum punishment of 5 years. What makes them different includes things like the location (inhabited dwelling, home, boat or trailer where someone lives), the activity of the person being robbed (using, or being near an ATM when robbed is first-degree robbery), or the status of the alleged victim (for example, a bus or taxi driver).

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Sometimes people rob or commit burglaries in order to support self-medication needs, which can add the problem of drug crimes being charged. Other times weapons crimes may be charged, particularly if a gun was used in a robbery, or home invasion.

Home invasion robberies are robberies that come with very serious consequences. Robbery, as you may know, always involves the use of force or fear to take something from someone. In California, home invasion is a form of first-degree robbery that includes the additional “elements”—or separate facts about a crime that must be present—that the robbery occurred inside an inhabited place and the robbery was committed by two or more people working together. This can boost the maximum penalty from 6 years for the typical first-degree robbery to 9 years. Home invasions also frequently include the use of guns, and other weapons, which can potentially result in a term of life-in-prison.

While a home invasion robbery requires that you take something from someone inside an inhabited place through force or fear, a burglary does not require this. Burglaries are simply entering someone else’s place—in what might otherwise be a trespass—with the intention of committing some kind of a crime in the place.

Robberies and burglaries can be “strikes” under California law, while most other theft crimes such as embezzlement, shoplifting, or fraud are not.

Whether the crime is charged as a misdemeanor theft crime, or a serious strike felony, if you’re facing these charges, you need a committed attorney who cares about what happens to you.

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That’s why you should call me, criminal defense lawyer Rick Horowitz, right now at (559) 233-8886. I’m always available when you need me.