Property crimes like theft and robbery exist in a gray area between violent and non-violent criminal charges. Depending on some very specific details, two acts that are almost identical may yield two substantially different sets of charges and sentencing.

If you recently received property crime charges of some kind, you need to assess your strongest options for constructing a defense against them. Without a proper legal defense, you will suffer consequences of these charges, whether or not they are truly fair.

Protecting your rights and fighting against criminal charges is usually easiest and most effective with the assistance of an attorney to guide you. The prosecution responsible for your case is already working to prove you are guilty, so you shouldn’t waste any time responding. The assistance of an experienced attorney can help ensure that you understand your rights and prioritize protecting them.

Non-violent property crimes

If a person takes something that belongs to someone else without that person’s knowledge and permission, without intending to return the property, this constitutes theft. This might play out a number of ways, some of which are surprisingly complicated.

For the sake of our example, however, we’ll assume a person has snatched a woman’s purse and run away. Unless there is justification for taking the purse that may hold up in court, this is a basic theft.

It is important to note that this interaction does not involve any kind of threat of harm. Although the woman who lost her purse may feel rattled, that is all. When a threat of harm enters the picture, the classification of the crime changes.

Robbery and violence

If violence is used or threatened during a property crime, it may convert to robbery. Robbery is essentially theft involving a threat of harm to the victim or to someone else to compel the victim to turn over property.

A person may confront a woman on the sidewalk and brandish a gun implying a threat of harm. This counts as robbery. Even if no violence occurs, the threat of violence or harm is usually enough to convert it to robbery. In some cases, depending on the circumstances of the altercation and the identity of the victim or the type of force used, the suspect may receive additional charges for violent crimes.

If you face property crime charges, don’t wait to begin defending yourself against them. The sooner you start constructing your defense against the charges, the better your chances generally are of defeating the charges or lessening the sentencing.