Property Crimes

The offense of burglary occurs when someone enters a habitation, or a building (or any portion of a building) that is not open to the public, without the effective consent of the owner and does so with the intent to commit a felony, theft, or an assault. It can also occur if someone lawfully enters a location but remains concealed in such a location without the consent of the owner with the intent to commit a felony, theft, or an assault. If this offense is committed in a building that is not a habitation, it is a State Jail felony, except that if the building into which entry is made is a place where controlled substances are generally kept, such as a pharmacy or drug store, then the offense is a third-degree felony. If entry is made into a habitation, the offense is a second-degree felony, except that in cases where any party to the offense enters with the intent to commit a felony other than felony theft, then the offense is a first degree felony. Entering the building or habitation does not require that all of a person’s body get into the building. To be prosecuted for this offense, it is sufficient if any part of a person’s body intrudes into the premises, or if any physical object connected with the body intrudes into the premises.

Theft is simply the unlawful appropriation, or taking, of property with the intent to deprive the owner of that property. The level of seriousness attached to a particular theft is generally established by the value of what is taken. Generally speaking, if the value of the property is less than $100.00, the offense is classified as a Class C misdemeanor.

Classification of theft cases can go all the way up to first degree, if the value of the property is sufficient to satisfy the statutory requirement. Classification is also determined by other circumstances such as the nature or type of property taken, and the nature of any relationship between the person charged and the alleged victim. Theft is considered a crime of moral turpitude, a conviction for which can have very serious future consequences beyond just those associated with punishment in the case.

Criminal Mischief occurs when someone damages or destroys personal property that belongs to someone else, without that person’s consent. As with theft cases. The seriousness of the offense is determined, in large part, by the value of the property affected and its nature and the presence of any special relationship between the victim and the accused. Criminal mischief cases can range anywhere from a Class C misdemeanor up to a First degree felony.

Another of the Property Crimes we frequently encounter in representing clients is commonly referred to as Graffiti. This offense includes making markings or slogans or other inscriptions on someone else’s property without their consent, using paint, or an indelible marker or an etching or engraving device. Similar to other Property Crimes, the seriousness of the offense is determined by the amount of the loss in the value of the property that is a result of the markings made on the property. Before you decide to go “tagging”, consider a case that we recently defended where a young person with a very bright future got intoxicated with a couple of her friends and they decided to go “tagging”. Unfortunately, (and something they did not realize) the property they defaced happened to be under federal jurisdiction. Although we were able to keep her from having to do any actual prison time, she is a convicted felon and will have to suffer the consequence of that for the rest of her life.