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Larceny vs Burglary
(Definition, Differences and All Types Explained)

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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt
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Understanding the distinction between larceny and burglary is a key part of understanding different types of criminal laws. Similar acts can have different legal consequences in terms of sentencing, punishment, or fines depending on the context. 

Our expert lawyers have prepared this guide to help you understand what sets these two offenses apart and where to turn if you’re falsely accused of a theft crime.

Quick Summary 

  • In most cases, burglary involves theft, but larceny and burglary differ in many aspects, including the type of offense, severity, and penalties.
  • Larceny is the unlawful taking of property with the intent of depriving the owner of its use. Petty or simple larceny involves the theft of property and is usually considered a lesser crime than grand larceny.
  • Burglary involves unlawful entry to another person’s property with the intent to commit a crime. Burglary crimes are generally more serious than larceny offenses because they harm people’s safety.

What Is The Difference Between Larceny And Bulgary?

A burglar sneaking into someone's houseThe difference between larceny and burglary is that the first one includes the illegal taking of property motivated by the intent to completely deny its owner access, whereas to commit burglary, a person must enter a structure with the intent to commit a crime. 

Larceny encompasses a range of acts, from stealing cars to shoplifting. In contrast, burglary encompasses breaking into someone else’s home without permission and intending to commit violence, rape, arson, and property damage. A burglar may break into a person’s property with the intent to commit larceny.

When it comes to charges, burglary is a far more serious and punishable crime than larceny due to the potential harm it poses to people.

Depending on the state in question and the case circumstances, a felony burglary conviction could merit fines up to $100,000 or higher; alternatively, even misdemeanor convictions have been known to carry such penalties as imposing less than $1,000 fines.

On the other hand, misdemeanors for petty theft are only subject to a maximum of one year’s imprisonment and fees amounting to no more than $2,000.

Are There Different Categories Of Larceny?

Yes, there are two categories of larceny: petty larceny and grand larceny. Most states penalize larceny offenses by the value of the stolen item.

Grand larceny is charged in varying degrees:

Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree

A standing man placed in a handcuffsGrand theft can occur when a defendant intends to take another person’s access to a property worth between $1,000 and $3,000 without the owner’s permission. 

This level of larceny can take many forms, including theft of public records, secret scientific material or technical processes, credit or debit cards, and firearms.

Grand larceny in the fourth degree carries a maximum four-year state prison sentence.

“Fortunately, however, a first-time offender can receive a non-prison or jail sentence. If you are a predicate felon, then there is a mandatory minimum of two to four years in state prison and a maximum of three and one half to seven years in prison.”
Jeremy Salan, Theft Lawyer ar Saland Law

Grand Larceny in the Third Degree 

A grand larceny in the third degree is when a defendant steals $3,000 worth of property (but no more than $50,000), or when the property is an automated teller machine (ATM) or the contents of an ATM.

The maximum state jail penalty for grand larceny in the third degree is seven years.

Second Degree

A close up shot of a man on a handcuffs

Grand larceny in the second degree is a Class C felony committed when:

  • The value of the stolen property is between $50,000 and $1 million;
  •  If the property was gained by extortion;
  • If you are a public servant.

The maximum term for grand larceny in the second degree, a class C felony, is 15 years in state prison.

Grand Larceny in the First Degree

To qualify as first-degree grand larceny, the stolen property must have a value greater than $1 million. 

This is a Class B felony and can be brought to as many as a 25-year state prison.

Are There Different Levels Of Burglary?

A burglar trying to sneak through the window

Yes, there are different levels of burglary; Burglary in the first degree, burglary in the second degree, and residential burglary. 

Burglary in the First Degree

A person may be prosecuted with burglary in the first degree under if:

  • He enters or stays on another person’s property without permission [1];
  • He has the intent to harm a person or his property by committing a crime;
  • The actor or his accomplice is either armed with a dangerous weapon or assaulting a person while entering or remaining on the property.

This may involve a car, boat, or another kind of property in addition to entering a house or other structure.

Burglary in the Second Degree

A person may be prosecuted with burglary in the second degree per RCW 9A.52.030 if they unlawfully enter and/or remain on another person’s property, apart from a vehicle or a home, with the intent to commit a crime against a person or his property [2].

Residential Burglary

A person may be accused of residential burglary if they unlawfully enter and/or remain in another person’s dwelling other than a vehicle with the intent to commit a felony against that person or his property [3].

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FAQs

What is the Primary Difference Between Larceny and Burglary?

The primary difference between larceny and burglary is that the first one does not involve illegally entering a property. Those violations of state laws can be committed separately, but they can also be committed at the same time.

Can You Face Charges for Both Larceny and Burglary?

Yes, you can face charges for both larceny and burglary. Those violations of state laws can be committed separately, but they can also be committed at the same time.

What Are Common Types of Larceny?

Common types of larceny are theft of vehicles, pocket-picking, shoplifting, and purse snatching. Yes, you can face charges for both larceny and burglary. Those violations of state laws can be committed separately, but they can also be committed at the same time.

Get A Free Lawsuit Evaluation With Our Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you or a loved one is detained on suspicion of larceny or burglary, you must hire a skilled criminal lawyer as quickly as you can.

At Schmidt & Clark, LLP our criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience representing people charged with theft offenses and have obtained exceptional results for those arrested. 


References:

  1. https://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=9A.52.020
  2. https://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=9A.52.030
  3. https://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=9A.52.025

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