Differences Between Robbery and Theft in Oakland
Robbery is considered a serious offense in Oakland. Because it involves the use or threat of force, robbery is considered a more serious crime than simple theft.
If you were charged with robbery, consider speaking with a qualified criminal defense attorney today. A lawyer who understands the differences between robbery and theft in Oakland could argue for lesser charges or otherwise fight for a positive outcome to your case. Call today to get started.
Difference Between Robbery and Theft
Robbery is different from theft charges in two significant ways: robbery is only ever charged as a felony, and it is also a strike charge. Theft charges can and usually are charged as misdemeanors, and they are not strike charges.
From a factual basis, a robbery is different from a theft because it involves the use or threat of force when taking the property. That is the significant difference between robbery and theft from an element perspective. From a conviction and sentencing perspective, robbery is much more severe than theft charges because it can only ever be charged as a felony. The potential sentences that someone convicted of robbery could get in state prison are very severe versus theft charges.
Degrees of Burglary
There are two degrees of burglary, and they each involve specific charges—with one always being a felony offense, and the other either a “wobbler” — a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the particulars of the burglary that has taken place. The first-degree burglary involves stealing from a place that is residential, an inhabited dwelling, which would be a home, houseboat, apartment or any other place where people live. First-degree burglary is always a felony strike offense and carries a 2 – 6-year sentence in state prison, up to $10,000 in fines and no offer of probation. Second-degree burglary, on the other hand, involves stealing from any building that is not residential in nature, and if charged as a felony can carry 16 months – 3 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. If charged with a misdemeanor, a second-degree burglary sentence can involve 1 year in county jail and up to $1,000 in fines. There are enhancements that will be considered as well for instance if explosives are present if a person is a home during a burglary, etc.
Degrees of Robbery
Robbery also comes in two degrees, and as mentioned involves force or threat and another person. In a robbery case, it is important to note that the value of what is taken from a person does not matter, as it is the use of force or threat that classifies the offense as a robbery. The first-degree robbery involves robbing a driver or passenger of a vehicle for hire, an inhabited residence, or robbing people or individuals who are using or just finished using an ATM. The first-degree robbery can carry a sentence of up to 9 years in a California state prison. Second-degree robbery sentences can carry sentences up to 5 years in state prison. If you have hurt someone during the commission of a robbery, or used or fired a gun, or robbed more than one person, etc. the robbery offense is enhanced and years can be added to your sentence.
Negotiating Lesser Charges
If the actual force or threat of force used during the commission of the robbery is minor or slight, that is an opportunity for an attorney to negotiate the robbery charge down to theft. For example, if the suspect grabs another person’s phone out of their hands and runs away, that is a robbery. There was property taken from somebody, there was force used, and the person fled with the property, so the elements have been met.
However, the use of force there is really minor; it is the force needed just to remove it from the person’s hand. In many instances, especially if the person charged has no criminal history or record of any convictions, a district attorney may be convinced to reduce the charge to a theft or a non-robbery charge with aggressive negotiations by the defense attorney.
Importance of Hiring an Attorney
A person charged with theft or robbery should hire a criminal lawyer because these charges can be significant, especially if they are charged as felonies. Somebody who is convicted of a felony may very well be sentenced to state prison. If they have an attorney, the attorney may find legal and factual problems with the case and file motions to have evidence suppressed. If those motions are granted, the case may very well be dismissed. Somebody who does not hire a lawyer may not even know that there are legal and factual problems with their case.
The main reason is to have an experienced attorney look at the case, the facts, and the evidence. There may be evidence that is very powerful against the accused, but if it was unlawfully obtained by law enforcement, an attorney will file a motion to have it suppressed. Again, if that motion is granted, the case is likely to be dismissed. The mere fact that someone is charged only with theft as opposed to robbery still does not mean that they are in any position to represent themselves because the consequences of a conviction are great.
Contact an Oakland Robbery Attorney Today
If you face charges, consider hiring an attorney who understands the critical differences between robbery and theft in Oakland. If the prosecution’s evidence is weak or improper, a skilled defense attorney may be able to negotiate lower charges or even a dismissal. Call today to schedule a case review and begin working towards a positive outcome in your case.