The state of Utah imposes very harsh criminal penalties for robbery, burglary, and theft convictions, including years of prison time and fines in the thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. If you’ve been charged with theft in Ogden, it’s extremely important that you have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side in court to fight the charges and walk you through your legal options as your case develops.
Attorney Darwin Overson has more than 15 years of practical experience handling a variety of misdemeanor and felony theft charges on behalf of Ogden residents, including both adults and juvenile offenders. He offers free, no-obligation consultations for all new clients, and is available to make jail or holding center visits.
To set up a completely free case evaluation, call Darwin right away at (801) 758-2287. Your information will always be kept confidential.
Theft, Robbery, and Burglary: What’s the Difference?
It’s a common misconception that theft, robbery, and burglary all have the same meaning. While the words might be interchangeable in everyday conversation, from a legal standpoint there are very important distinctions between the three.
Robbery specifically means taking property away from somebody “by means of force or fear.” For example, a person could be charged with robbery for mugging someone on the street, or grabbing their bag off of their shoulder. Even if the defendant does not actually harm the victim, simply threatening violence could be sufficient grounds for robbery charges if the victim feared for their safety.
The charges can be elevated to aggravated robbery if the defendant:
- Used or threatened to use a weapon.
- Seriously injured the victim.
- Stole or tried to steal a vehicle.
If the alleged offense involved a weapon, you may also be charged with additional weapons crimes.
Burglary also has a specific meaning: entering a building or property with the intent to commit a crime. Many people are surprised to learn the intended crime does not have to involve theft. You can be charged with burglary for entering a building with intent to commit any felony, including all of the following:
- Lewdness (or Lewdness Involving a Child)
- Sexual Battery
Burglary charges can turn into aggravated burglary charges if the defendant:
- Seriously injured the victim.
- Used, attempted to use, or threatened to use a weapon (including explosives).
While robbery and burglary have fairly narrow meanings, the definition of theft is very broad. Theft can refer to stealing physical or intangible items, including but not limited to:
- Shoplifting or Retail Theft
- Identity Theft
- Theft of Services (utilities, cable, etc.)
- Vehicular Theft
- Theft by Deception or Extortion
- Theft of Lost Property
Despite the broad range of offenses theft can encompass, the Utah Criminal Code uses a very simple legal definition: “exercis[ing] unauthorized control over the property of another with a purpose to deprive [them] thereof.”
Utah Criminal Code §76-6-402 provides three possible defenses against theft charges, which may apply to your case:
- You had an honest legal right to the service or property you allegedly stole.
- You honestly believed you had the right to possess or control the item in question.
- You possessed or controlled the item under an honest belief that the item’s rightful owner would have willingly consented.
Criminal Penalties: Fines, Sentences, and Treble Damages
Depending on the value of the object or service stolen, most forms of theft are classified as felonies. While Utah imposes tough penalties for felony convictions in general, certain theft offenses are subject to a special rule called “treble damages.” Treble damages, or triple damages, essentially means you can be fined three times the value of the stolen property in a civil lawsuit filed separately from the criminal charges, according to Utah criminal defense lawyer Darwin Overson.
The Utah criminal justice system imposes the following fines and sentences for misdemeanor and felony convictions:
- Class B Misdemeanor
- Examples — Theft (less than $500)
- Fine — Up to $1,000
- Sentence — Up to 6 months in jail
- Class A Misdemeanor
- Examples — Theft ($500 to $1,499)
- Fine — Up to $2,500
- Sentence — Up to 1 year in jail
All criminal offenses “above” Class A Misdemeanors are classified as felonies.
- Third Degree Felony
- Examples — Robbery, Burglary, Theft ($1,500 to $4,999)
- Fine — Up to $5,000
- Sentence — Up to 5 years in prison
- Second Degree Felony
- Examples — Burglary of a Dwelling, Theft ($5,000 or more)
- Fine — Up to $10,000
- Sentence — Up to 15 years in prison
- First Degree Felony
- Examples — Aggravated Robbery, Aggravated Burglary
- Fine — Up to $10,000
- Sentence — Up to life in prison
While the dollar value of the stolen object plays a major role in determining the degree of the offense, it’s important to keep in mind that criminal charges are not always classified based on property value alone. For example, under Utah Criminal Code §76-6-412(a) you can be charged with a second degree felony if the item you allegedly stole was a gun or a vehicle, regardless of the item’s monetary worth.
Our Utah Theft Defense Attorneys Can Help
The bottom line is that the charges against you are serious and need to be addressed immediately. Don’t wait until it’s already too late: to arrange for your free and private consultation, call Utah theft lawyer Darwin Overson at (801) 758-2287. Our phone lines are staffed around the clock, so call as soon as you can to start discussing your legal situation.