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Northwest Arkansas Burglary and Theft Attorney

People often assume that burglary equals theft which equals robbery, but that is not true. Why does it matter? Because each charge can carry significantly different penalties.

All three are property crimes, as are arson, vandalism and defacement. But theft means that the crime was limited to stealing property. Shoplifting a sweater is theft. Stealing a company computer is theft (or larceny). Theft may be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the property taken.

Robbery involves the use or threat of force against a person in the course of stealing their property. If that threat involves a weapon, the charge will be armed or aggravated robbery. Robberies are almost always felony crimes.

Residential and Commercial Burglary

A burglary often involves stealing property, which is why the terms are often confused. But in fact, burglary refers to the unauthorized entering of someone’s structure, with the intent to commit an additional crime. The difference between residential and commercial burglary is where the burglary took place.  If it occurred in a residence, the charge would be a Class B Felony, which could lead to a punishment of between 5 and 20 years.  If it occurred in a business, the charge would be a Class C Felony, which could lead to a punishment of between 3 and 10 years.

Aggravated Residential Burglary

Aggravated Residential Burglary is charged when a person enters a residence that is occupied, and either possesses a deadly weapon or attempts to, or actually does, inflict death or serious physical injury to another person.

Other factors to consider when assessing a burglary case

Unauthorized entering: To be charged with burglary, you must enter someone else’s property without permission. The property covered can vary state to state, but may include a:

  • Residence
  • Car or truck
  • Shed
  • Storage facility
  • Business 

It typically does not include open spaces, such as a yard. It’s also important to note that to “enter” does not mean that your entire body must enter the property. If you break a window and reach in to grab something, that counts as “entering.” In some states, if the property involved was someone’s home, the charge is automatically a felony, even if no one is home at the time.

There must be intent.   The prosecutor must show that you entered someone else’s property intending to commit a crime. That crime might be:

  • Theft
  • Robbery
  • Arson
  • Vandalism
  • Assault
  • Rape
  • Homicide

Note that you do not have to actually commit the crime.  Intent alone matters. If you enter without permission and, on the spur of the moment, take something, it might be criminal trespassing and theft, but it is not burglary.  Why?  No intent.

Burglaries can be misdemeanors, but are often felony crimes, and in either case require a skilled criminal defense attorney like Mike Armstrong.

Defense against a burglary charge

The prosecutor will have to prove all elements of a burglary charge:  that you entered a structure without permission; that the type of structure is covered by the law; and that you intended to commit another crime.

Your defense might include:

  • Arguing that you are innocent 
  • Arguing that you had permission to enter
  • Establishing plausible doubt about the evidence 
  • Arguing that you entered, but did not intend to commit another crime (for example, you entered only because you were intoxicated, and were too intoxicated to plan a crime)
  • Arguing that you were forced into the situation by someone else (coercion or entrapment) 

Proving intent can be particularly tricky for prosecutors.  Only you really know what you were thinking at the time. So, without a confession, the prosecutor must rely upon circumstantial evidence.

Regardless of your innocence or guilt or the evidence, burglary is a serious charge. Get the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney and former Prosecuting Attorney as soon as possible.  Call Armstrong Law at 479-268-4190.

Theft of Property

Theft cases are typically categorized by the value of the item or items stolen.  In order to prove a theft case in Arkansas, the prosecutor must show that a person has exercised unauthorized control over the property of another, or that they have obtained the property of another by threat or deception with the purpose of depriving that person of their property.

The most severe theft charges can be faced when, for example, a person has stolen something worth at least $25,000, or has seriously injured someone in the process of stealing something, or a person steals at least $500 worth of items from a public utility.  Such charges amount to a Class B Felony, which is punishable by between 5 and 20 years in prison.

A lesser theft charge could be, for example, related to the theft of an item valued at between $5,000 and $25,000, or a firearm worth more than $2,500, or perhaps building materials with a value of greater than $500. Such charges amount to a Class C Felony, which is punishable by between 3 and 10 years in prison.

Theft of property worth between $1,000 and $5,000, or the theft of credit card or other account numbers would be charged as a Class D felony, with a punishment range of between 0 and 6 years in prison.

For thefts of property with a value of less than $1,000, the crime would typically be charged as a Class A Misdemeanor, with a punishment range of up to 1 year in the county jail.

Theft by Receiving

Although very similar, theft by receiving is a separate crime from theft of property.  Often times, Theft by Receiving is an easier crime for the prosecutor to prove.   This is because the crime requires no intent, only knowledge.  A person commits the crime of Theft by Receiving if he or she receives, retains or disposes of stolen property of another person, either knowing the property is stolen, or having good reason to believe so.

The punishment for a Theft by Receiving conviction in Arkansas is usually determined by the value of the property. 

  • For property valued in excess of $25,000, Theft by Receiving is a Class B felony, which carries with it a potential prison sentence of from 5 to 20 years.
  • For property valued between $5,000 and $25,000, or if it is a firearm valued at more than $2,500, Theft by Receiving is a Class C felony, which carries with it a potential prison sentence of from 3 to 10 years.
  • For property valued between $1,000 and $5,000, Theft by Receiving is a Class D felony, which carries with it a potential prison sentence of from 0 to 6 years.
  • Otherwise, Theft by Receiving is a Class A Misdemeanor, with a potential sentence of up to one year in the county jail.

Armstrong Law Will Handle Your Criminal Defense for a Burglary or Theft Arrest

If you or a loved one has been arrested for a felony or misdemeanor burglary or theft crime, the sooner you retain a criminal defense lawyer, the better your chances of seeing a favorable outcome to your case.  Once you retain Armstrong Law, we will begin our investigation immediately, gathering information, devising a defense strategy and actively working to protect your constitutional rights. Do not face the criminal justice system and the harsh penalties alone and, most importantly, do not wait to get the legal representation you deserve!

Armstrong Law is committed to providing each client with a strategic, aggressive defense. In every case, we work toward a dismissal or a “not guilty” verdict. But in instances where this is not possible, we are frequently successful in securing downgraded charges and milder penalties.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for a burglary or theft crime in Arkansas, do not delay in contacting Armstrong Law.  Arrange a fully confidential, no-cost case evaluation by calling us at (479) 268-4190 or reaching out to us online.