What are the Different Types of Theft Charges?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

Theft is a type of crime that involves unlawfully taking or using property that belongs to another person or entity. There are many different types of theft charges in most justice systems, ranging from misdemeanor shoplifting to grand theft. Possible punishments will depend on the type of charges filed; some common sentences resulting from theft convictions include fines, parole, and jail time.

The stealing of a car is considered grand theft.
The stealing of a car is considered grand theft.

Identity theft charges are becoming increasingly common as personal information becomes easier to obtain. Using another person's name, bank account, or credit card without permission can result in identity theft charges being filed. This crime can be particularly damaging since in some cases, purchases made through identity theft can destroy the victim's credit score and financial resources. Identity theft is now considered a federal crime in some regions, punishable by a lengthy jail sentence and forfeiture of any property bought with stolen funds.

Theft is considered a misdemeanor for items under a certain amount.
Theft is considered a misdemeanor for items under a certain amount.

Using violence, intimidation, or threats to obtain property is typically considered robbery. Often referred to as armed robbery or mugging, this type of charge often carries a heavier penalty than regular larceny charges, due to the presence of weapons or threat of violence. While some regions have charges specifically for forms of robbery, other courts may file both theft and weapons or assault charges instead.

Using violence to steal in a mugging carries a heavier penalty than other types of larceny.
Using violence to steal in a mugging carries a heavier penalty than other types of larceny.

Stealing that involves deception rather than violence is often referred to as fraud. Fraud theft charges can involve acts of embezzlement, investment schemes, counterfeiting, or even lying on state and federal tax forms. Fraud is often considered a “white collar” crime, as it usually involves no violence and is conducted through business dealings. Despite the use of deception rather than physical force, fraud can be extremely serious and disastrously effect the financial status of victims. Acts of fraud can result in enormous amounts of monetary and property theft, since there are often dozens, if not hundreds, of victims.

Jail time is one possible consequence for committing theft.
Jail time is one possible consequence for committing theft.

Some regions choose to divide theft charges based on the value of the goods taken and method of the crime. In some areas, this division is marked by terms in the theft charges, such as “petty” or “grand”. Theft charges may also be considered felonies or misdemeanors depending on the amount stolen and the use of violence or intimidation. Grand theft or felony charges typically bring much higher penalties than petty or misdemeanor charges. Different jurisdictions may have different means of evaluating where the line is drawn between petty and grand charges; many use a specific dollar amount as a determining factor.

Stealing a person's credit card information for fraudulent purchases is a type of theft.
Stealing a person's credit card information for fraudulent purchases is a type of theft.
The severity of the shoplifting charge will depend on the value of the stolen item.
The severity of the shoplifting charge will depend on the value of the stolen item.
Use of a gun in a theft can result in aggravated robbery charges.
Use of a gun in a theft can result in aggravated robbery charges.
Some regions have charges specifically for forms of robbery.
Some regions have charges specifically for forms of robbery.
Embezzlement is a type of theft charge that occurs more often in corporate settings.
Embezzlement is a type of theft charge that occurs more often in corporate settings.
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments

SZapper

@indemnifyme - I do think something should be done about shoplifting. I don't agree that the actual charges should be more serious though and I definitely don't think teenagers who shoplift should be tried as adults.

A lot of people commit youthful indiscretions and there is no need for these charges to follow them into adulthood. I know a few people who used to shoplift as teenagers that turned into pretty upstanding citizens as adults!

indemnifyme

I think the theft charge for shoplifting should be more serious, or at least the punishments should be slightly more creative Shoplifting is a huge problem among teenagers! I'm one of the only people I know who has never shoplifted. This is a huge problem for retailers and something should really be done to deter shoplifting.

When I was really young my mom told me that if I shoplifted she would just let me sit in jail. That did the trick for me I guess!

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register: