The law jargon is not always the easiest to understand, and that’s why you will wonder why an attorney will call theft ‘larceny’. The truth is, there are many degrees of classification of theft, which vary by severity. Severity is determined by the value of the stolen item or property, prior record of theft, and other activities connected to the crime, such as murder. Therefore, robber, embezzlement, fraud, or bribery are all forms of theft and chargeable by the court of law.
While theft accusation is a serious charge, every classification comes with its own unique set of penalties. Understanding theft laws can help you study your case and build the best case for your defense and protect your future. Below are the most common types of thefts and their respective elements.
Commonly referred to as theft, larceny is a type of crime that involves unlawfully using or taking other people’s property or entity. Theft charges come in various flavors in most jurisdictions and range from a misdemeanor to grand theft. They typically have the same elements—taking other people’s property without the intention of returning—but have a subtle difference like the value of the items stolen and where the crime took place. The punishment will depend on the charges filed, and the most common sentences resulting from larceny include probation, jail time, and fines.
Fraud is deceiving someone to give up something willingly under false pretense. Like larceny, fraud can have many varieties depending on the method of deception used. It is most commonly referred to as ‘white-collar crime’ as methods used are often cunning with no intimidation or violence. However, fraud is also a serious offense as it is associated with property and monetary theft.
Types of fraud include:
Forgery: It is the alteration or publication of someone’s work or signature with the intent to benefit financially from their property. It can be altering a will, deed, credit card information, and other personal information.
Debit card fraud: Debit card fraud is quite common and an easy way to gain access to another person’s personal information and money. It involves using someone’s else’s card to obtain money, buy goods or services without the cardholder’s knowledge.
Wire fraud: Involves using devices like smartphones or computers to sell an item that doesn’t exist or does not belong to you. Wire fraud is a federal crime with severe potential consequences.
Insurance fraud: Insurance fraud is simply lying to get more money from your insurance company, whether it’s home, auto, or life insurance. There are two types of insurance fraud; soft and hard fraud. Hard fraud is when you deliberately get into an accident to get compensation, while soft fraud is when you lie about injuries or damages for financial gain.
Robbery is using intimidation, violence, or threats to obtain property that does not belong to you. In simpler words, robbery is theft with an additional element of threat or physical violence. Since robbers use various weapons to threaten or assault their victims, people often refer to this theft as ‘armed robbery’ or ‘mugging’ and carries a heavier penalty than basic larceny due to threats and violence. Some courts opt to charge robbery and violence or threats separately, while others charge them as one.
Modern-day society has created many channels for identity theft. As countries continue to tighten theft laws, particularly identity theft, more platforms are emerging, making it easier to obtain people’s personal information. Identity theft occurs when you use someone else’s name, bank account, credit card, or insurance card without permission. Identity theft is considered a federal crime, and charges are quite serious as it can destroy someone’s life completely. It damages credit reputation and financial sources, and by the time the victim notices, the damage is almost unrepairable. Some states have special identity theft laws.
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