Property Crimes in the United States Although many property offenses are classified as serious felonies and carry significant possible prison sentences, approximately one third of all defendants convicted in state courts are sentenced to probation. That doesn’t include those cases where charges were reduced by agreement to a misdemeanor or the defendant was acquitted or convicted of a lesser offense at trial. The average prison sentence for felony property crime is approximately three and a half years. But each case is different. Ask a defense attorney if you can fight your property case. If you’re facing burglary charges or any other charges, and other information you may need in your court case's Etc.
Property crimes include many common crimes relating to theft or destruction of someone else's property. They can range from lower level offenses such as shoplifting or vandalism to high level felonies including armed robbery and arson. Some such crimes do not require the offender to make off with stolen goods or even to harm a victim - such as burglary, which only requires unlawful entry with the intent to commit a crime. Others require the actual taking of money or property. Some, such as robbery, require a victim present at the time of the crime. Most property crimes include a spectrum of degrees depending on factors including the amount stolen and use of force or arms in theft related cases, and actual or potential bodily injury in property destruction crimes such as arson. Below you'll find more information on specific property crimes.
Property Crimes in the United States Property Crimes in the United States Although many property offenses are classified as serious felonies and carry significant possible prison sentences, approximately one third of all defendants convicted in state courts are sentenced to probation.
That doesn’t include those cases where charges were reduced by agreement to a misdemeanor or the defendant was acquitted or convicted of a lesser offense at trial. The average prison sentence for felony property crime is approximately three and a half years.
But each case is different. Ask a defense attorney if you can fight your property case. If you’re facing burglary charges or any other charges, you can get a case free evaluation by a local defense attorney. Just fill out the quick form below to get help now.
Although the precise definition of a crime and the required elements vary from state to state, burglary is generally defined as breaking and entering into a building with the intent to commit a crime therein.
Whether the burglary is a felony or a misdemeanor depends on a variety of factors. Generally speaking, residential burglaries are more likely to be charged as felonies, and may be classified as more serious felonies if there are people in the dwelling at the time of the burglary.
Burglary of commercial buildings is generally considered less serious, and often results in misdemeanor charges, unless the building in question falls into one of a specific list of businesses afforded greater protection under the law. For instance, it may be a felony to break into a bank or a pharmacy.
According to data from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, the average sentence for burglary in the federal criminal system is just under 2.5 years in prison. The average sentence in state courts is longer, with variation from state to state.
Robbery typically refers to the act of taking property away from another person (or from his presence) by the use of force or the threat of force. The average prison sentence for robbery is significantly longer than that for burglary, because of the comparative risk and trauma to the victims.
Many robberies involve the use of weapons, which makes the robbery a more serious crime in some states and is considered an aggravating factor for sentencing in others.
In the state courts, the average sentence for robbery is about six and a half years, while in the federal system it is nearly nine years. Sentences can be greater if you were arrested in a state with a three-strikes law and you’ve had multiple convictions.
The crimes described as theft and larceny can encompass a wide range of criminal activity. These terms may refer to shoplifting, stealing that takes place during a burglary or robbery, virtually any taking of property from another person or business.
In some states writing bad checks and certain types of fraud also fall under the classification of theft.
Because the crimes in question are so varied, the classification of the crimes – and thus the possible sentences – vary widely as well. The average sentence for larceny and theft in the criminal system is just over two and a half years – almost exactly the same as the average sentence for burglary. The average sentences in state courts are somewhat lower.
The largest disparity occurs in the area of motor vehicle theft, where state court sentences average 18 months and federal court sentences nearly 11 years.
There are many property crimes that involve the destruction of property rather than theft or intrusion, and arson is considered the most serious of them in most jurisdictions.
It is estimated that property losses due to arson exceed $2 billion each year. In the federal criminal system, the average sentence for arson is just over 7 years.
Arson is often charged in conjunction with other crimes. For instance, arson is often committed in furtherance of an insurance fraud scheme, or to destroy evidence, or in an attempt to kill or intimidate another person. Arson is also sometimes classified as a hate crime, depending upon the nature and motivation of the crime.
In many jurisdictions, some types of arson ‒ especially involving occupied residential property ‒ are classified among the most serious of crimes, carrying sentences of 20 years or more.
The Bottom Line Property crimes carry a wide variety of sentences, and have numerous mitigating and aggravating circumstances that can impact sentencing as well. Many property crimes may, under different circumstances, be charged as either felonies or misdemeanors, significantly impacting both the possible sentence and the impact on future opportunities like handgun ownership and employment prospects. If you have been charged with a property crime, speak with a criminal defense attorney in your area right away. Certain defenses must be filed within a very short period of time or are forever barred, so you can’t afford to wait until you appear in court to learn about your rights and options.
Types of Property Crime
Some of the more common types of property crime include burglary, identity theft, shoplifting, arson and vandalism.
Burglary - . If the structure is inhabited, it is first degree burglary. All other burglaries are second degree. First degree burglary also qualifies as a Strike under the Three Strikes provisions, since it is a serious felony under Penal Code §1192.7.
Identity Theft - The fastest growing crime seems to be identity theft. California has more victims than most states. It is a felony to use the personal identifying information of another person without their authorization in order to obtain merchandise or credit.
Shoplifting - Probably the most common types of theft offenses are shoplifting and auto theft. The taking of property that is worth more $400 makes it a felony. Some counties in California have diversion programs for first-time shoplifting.
Arson - A person is guilty of arson when he or she willfully and maliciously sets fire to or burns or causes to be burned or who aids, counsels, or procures the burning of, any structure, forest land, or property.
Vandalism - Vandalism involves a person who destroys, damages or defaces with graffiti the real or personal property of another. This would include vehicles, signs, fixtures, and buildings belonging to the government. If the amount of the damage is $400 or more, then it is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison or by a fine of not more than $10,000.
Felony versus Misdemeanor
Although California has traditionally distinguished between grand theft and petty theft based on the value of the goods, with $400 being the dividing line, there is a recent proposal to increase that line of demarcation to $2,500. Thus the definition of felony versus misdemeanor could be significantly altered if this proposal becomes law. It would also have a significant impact on the number of people sent to state prison, as prison is only an option for felonies.
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