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A conviction for theft, robbery, burglary, or embezzlement charges can have a permanent negative impact on a person's life. In addition to the potential for a lengthy jail or prison sentence, those convicted of theft charges may face challenges when seeking employment as well as social stigmatization that make it nearly impossible to live a normal life. Those who are not citizens of the United States may also face deportation charges and inadmissibility to the country following a conviction.  



Burglary is the unauthorized entry onto a property belonging to someone else with the intention of committing a felony. 

  • Residential burglaries require entry into homes, trailers, hotel rooms, camping tents and any other location that are deemed habitable under the law. 

  • Commercial burglaries require that entry onto a business premises with the intent of committing a theft and/or felony. Theft from a retail store is a common example of commercial burglary.



Counterfeiting involves replicating an item, such as currency or designer goods, with the intent to pass the replicas off as genuine. Common examples of counterfeiting include:


  • Forgery, including falsifying a person’s signature

  • Creating false documents

  • Creating false designer handbags

  • Manufacturing, trafficking, or possessing (with the intent to distribute) false or modified currency, postage stamps, or U.S. securities



Embezzlement is the unauthorized use of money or property legally entrusted to the accused.


A typical embezzlement case involves a banker or accountant taking money from a client's account and using it for his or herself. Another example involves the employee-employer relationship in which the employee misappropriates money from his/her employer.


The key difference between embezzlement and other theft crimes is that the embezzler has legal possession of the property. It is the misuse or misappropriation of the property that is a crime. 

Embezzled gains may range in value from a few dollars to millions, and charges may carry severe penalties depending on the circumstances.  In embezzlement cases, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused:


  • Had lawful possession or access to the money or property misappropriated

  • Acted with intent

  • Deprived the lawful owner of the money or property by it's misuse or misappropriation

Identity Theft

Identity Theft

Identity theft is the illegal use of another individual’s identity for financial gain or profit. Some common examples of identity theft include using another person’s credit card to make purchases over the internet, forging a signature on a check, and applying for a credit card using another person’s name.


Identity theft is generally divided into four categories:


  • Financial Identity Theft: The use of another’s identity to obtain material goods and services 


  • False Identification: Presenting as another person when arrested for a crime.


  • Identity Cloning: The use of another person’s identifying information in everyday life.


  • Business/Commercial Identity Theft: The use of another's business identity to obtain credit. 



Robbery requires the taking of someone else's property by force or fear.


Common examples of robbery include:

  • convenience store hold-ups 

  • purse snatching/muggings

  • bank robberies


Often, conduct that would customarily lead to a petty theft charge (for example, taking a small item of low value from a store) leads to the filing of robbery charges if it is alleged that the accused used force when confronted. What distinguishes robbery from other charges such as burglary or theft is the element of use of force or fear. 


Robbery can be first-degree (in an inhabited dwelling, cab or bus, or at an ATM banking location) or second-degree (all other types of robbery) and can be further classified into armed or aggravated robbery. Armed robbery involves the use of a weapon, while aggravated robbery involves the use of a deadly weapon or an object that might be construed as a deadly weapon, or a threat of bodily injury.



Theft is characterized as the stealing or taking of another person's property with the intent to permanently deprive them of such property. In California theft is classified based on the value of the property as follows:


  • Grand theft: When the total value of property taken exceeds $950, the crime qualifies as grand theft.  Depending on the circumstances, a grand theft charge may be classified as either misdemeanor or felony.  


  • Petty theft: If a theft does not rise to the threshold above, it is considered petty theft. Petty theft is a misdemeanor except when the offense follows prior convictions for petty theft.

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