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Understanding Theft and Larceny

Theft and larceny charges are among the most common criminal offenses in the legal system. These charges can range from minor infractions to serious felonies, depending on the value of the stolen property and the circumstances surrounding the crime. Understanding the different types of theft and larceny charges, the potential penalties, and effective defense strategies is crucial for anyone facing such allegations. Catanzaro Law is dedicated to helping clients build strong defenses and navigate the complexities of the legal system.

Types of Theft and Larceny Charges

Petty Theft

Petty theft, also known as petit larceny, involves the unlawful taking of property with a relatively low value, typically under a certain threshold set by state law (e.g., $500 or $1,000). This charge is usually classified as a misdemeanor and can result in penalties such as fines, community service, probation, and short-term imprisonment.

Grand Larceny

Grand larceny, or grand theft, involves the unlawful taking of property with a value that exceeds the threshold for petty theft. This charge is typically classified as a felony and carries more severe penalties, including substantial fines, lengthy imprisonment, and a permanent criminal record.


Shoplifting is a specific type of theft that involves stealing merchandise from a retail establishment. Depending on the value of the stolen goods, shoplifting can be charged as either petty theft or grand larceny. Penalties may include fines, restitution to the store, community service, probation, and imprisonment.


Burglary involves unlawfully entering a building or structure with the intent to commit theft or another crime. Burglary is usually classified as a felony, and penalties can vary based on factors such as whether the building was occupied and whether weapons were involved.


Robbery involves taking property from another person through force or threat of force. This charge is always classified as a felony and carries severe penalties, including substantial prison sentences, especially if weapons were used or if the victim was injured.

Potential Penalties

The penalties for theft and larceny charges depend on various factors, including the type of theft, the value of the stolen property, and the defendant’s criminal history. Common penalties include:

  • Fines: Monetary penalties that can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
  • Restitution: Repayment to the victim for the value of the stolen property.
  • Community Service: Mandatory participation in community service programs.
  • Probation: Supervised release with specific conditions that must be met.
  • Imprisonment: Jail or prison sentences that can vary from a few months to several years.
  • Criminal Record: A permanent record that can affect future employment, housing, and educational opportunities.

Common Defense Strategies

Lack of Intent

One of the key elements in theft and larceny charges is intent. A defense attorney may argue that the defendant did not intend to steal the property, which can be a crucial factor in achieving a favorable outcome.

Mistaken Identity

In some cases, the defendant may be wrongfully accused due to mistaken identity. An experienced attorney can present evidence to demonstrate that the defendant was not the person who committed the theft.

Ownership Dispute

A defense may be based on the claim that the defendant believed the property was rightfully theirs, leading to a misunderstanding rather than a criminal act.

Insufficient Evidence

If the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the defense attorney can argue for a dismissal of the charges.

How Catanzaro Law Can Help

At Catanzaro Law, we understand the serious consequences that theft and larceny charges can have on your life. Our experienced attorneys are committed to providing the best possible defense for our clients. Here’s how we can help:

  • Case Evaluation: We thoroughly review the details of your case to identify the most effective defense strategies.
  • Evidence Analysis: Our team examines the evidence against you, looking for weaknesses and inconsistencies that can be used in your defense.
  • Legal Representation: We represent you in court, advocating on your behalf and working to achieve the best possible outcome.
  • Negotiation: We negotiate with prosecutors to seek reduced charges or alternative sentencing options, such as diversion programs or probation.
  • Support and Guidance: We provide ongoing support and guidance throughout the legal process, ensuring you understand your rights and options.

If you or a loved one is facing theft or larceny charges, contact Catanzaro Law today. Our dedicated team is here to protect your rights and help you navigate the legal system with confidence!


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