Theft is a crime of taking of someone else’s property without his/her permission and depriving him/her permanently. Thief is someone who carries out an act of theft.
In some jurisdictions, theft is considered to be synonymous with larceny while in others it has replaced larceny. States that still have retained larceny have usually codified the common law definition within the State’s penal code.
However, theft has a very broad legal meaning which may include more than one category of crimes. In fact the term is used for some crimes against property, such as burglary, grand theft, larceny, robbery, embezzlement, library theft, identity theft, or fraud. Many jurisdictions create degrees of theft crimes.
Even if the 18 U.S. Code Section regulates certain categories of theft, there is a regulation at State level and theft is prosecuted by the State in which it occurred. One of the most important example is the California Theft Act of 1927 which introduced a variety of common law crimes in the robbery and nowadays distinguishes between two great types of theft:
– Grand theft:
It is the most serious category of offenses and can have severe consequences. It occurs when someone steals something worth more than $ 1000;
Property can be money, labor or property;
It is punishable by up to one year in jail or prison, and can either be seen as a misdemeanor or felony;
In most States, stealing an automobile or other vehicle is charged as “grand theft auto” and may be punished by imprisonment.
– Petty or “petit” theft:
It refers to relatively minor crimes, also known as misdemeanors and it is the default category for all other robberies. The stolen property value is below a certain value specified by law.
Petty theft is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine or six months in jail.
Thieves who continue to steal may become subject to life imprisonment in certain States. Those that are not U.S. citizens can also be subject to deportation. If you have been arrested or charged with a theft crime you should hire a criminal immigration lawyer with experience representing clients charged with theft crimes.
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