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Larceny vs. Burglary: Low-Value Theft Can Land You a Felony Charge

As we discussed earlier this year, larceny is a term that applies to several different crimes. In general, larceny charges result when a person has in some way wrongfully taken or kept something that belonged to another person. Stealing something is considered larceny and the theft will be considered petit larceny, chargeable as a misdemeanor unless the value of the theft exceeds $1000. If the value exceeds $1000 then it will be classified as a felony.

So if you steal something and the value of the stolen property is under $1000, then at least you can’t be charged with a felony, right? Wrong.

Is Burglary Always A Felony?

Imagine the following scenario. You know your neighbor is not home but you feel he owes you $100 even though he disagrees. You know where he keeps some extra cash and where he keeps the spare house key and so you enter his house, intending to take $100. You didn’t realize his wife was actually home and as you’re grabbing the money, she comes up behind you and asks what you are doing. Startled you shove her, causing her to fall and break her arm and you run out the front door without the money.

The example above could be considered burglary in the first degree, which is the most serious burglary offense and chargeable as a class B violent felony. A class B felony conviction will result in a minimum prison sentence of 1-3 years with the maximum sentence set at 25 years. There are two lesser charges related to burglary outlined below:

  • Second degree burglary is classified as a Class C felony, punishable by up to a 15-year prison sentence. There is no minimum required sentence, however.
  • Third degree burglary is classified as a Class D felony, punishable by up to a 7-year prison sentence. Again, there is no minimum required sentence.

So what is it about burglary that is so much more serious than larceny? If you stole $100 from a person’s truck, you would be charged with petit larceny, not burglary. Burglary is different than larceny in that to trigger its application you must unlawfully enter a building with the intent to commit a crime therein. It is as simple as that, and what’s more, you don’t necessarily have to even take anything. The burglary charges escalate to more serious felonies if you add aggravating factors including but not limited to hurting innocent bystanders, carrying deadly weapons, entering a building that is a dwelling and so forth.

We Can Help You Today

As demonstrated in the example above, a seemingly innocent act can net you serious consequences. On the other hand, perhaps you knew what you were doing may result in serious trouble with the law. Either way, Phillip J. Murphy, Attorney at Law, has vast experience defending both larceny and burglary charges in New York as well as New Jersey and other jurisdictions. In the event of a criminal charge, time is of the essence. Call today for a free consultation.

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