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5 Types of Property Crime and Their Consequences

Broken Glass

Property crime is a blanket term for any action that results in the theft or destruction of someone’s private property. The extent of the damage can range from spray-painted graffiti to large-scale embezzlement, but all forms of property crime can result in fines, incarceration, and the need for bail bonds.

The details of each instance of property crime will determine the extent of the legal ramifications. However, knowing five of the basic categories of property crime can help you understand the potential penalties. Read on to learn about these five categories and the typical sentences you can expect from them.

1. Burglary

Burglary is the act of breaking into a property with the intent of committing a crime. This can involve a private residence such as a home, a retail establishment such as a store, mobile establishments such as cars or trains, or even an outdoor location like a construction site.

Typically, burglary means that the accused broke into a residence and stole something, but by some definitions, other crimes, such kidnapping or sexual assault, can fall under the definition of burglary. However, these cases typically won’t be prosecuted as property crimes.

The penalties for burglary usually reflect the amount of damage done and goods stolen. The penalties also vary by state. Generally, a small burglary can be classified as a misdemeanor and carry a fine of $1,000 or less and jail time of one year or less. A more severe burglary — such as a class 3 felony — can carry very severe punishments, including a $100,000 fine and a 20 years in prison.

2. Extortion

The term extortion applies to situations where assailants force someone to give up their property. As opposed to burglary, which occurs without the victim’s knowledge or cooperation, extortion relies on the use of threats to convince the victim to relinquish their capital. Some threats of extortion include:

  • Physical harm. If someone threatens another person with physical harm if they don’t give the first person what they want, that first person has committed extortion. The threat can be spoken, written, or communicated non-verbally.
  • The exposure of private information. Extortion also occurs when someone threatens to reveal private details unless the victim gives them something.
  • Slander. If someone spreads misinformation in order to cause damage to a reputation, this is a crime known as slander. If someone threatens a victim with slander in order to pressure the victim into giving them something, this is extortion.

Extortion penalties include restitution for everything stolen and up to $10,000 in fines for each conviction. Jail time can exceed 15 years.

3. Theft

Theft is a broad category which can apply to anyone who steals something in a way that isn’t legally defined as burglary or extortion. Motor vehicle theft, larceny, embezzlement, and robbery are all considered theft. Because it is a broad legal category, courts don’t have a simple definition of theft or easy rules to determine the sentence.

The important thing to know is that punishment depends on what a person steals and the manner in which they steal it. Petty theft usually involves restitution and a relatively small fine, while armed robbery can mean extended prison time.

4. Arson

Arson involves the use of fire to destroy property, usually a residential or commercial building. Some of the common reasons for arson include:

  • Revenge or anger
  • Excitement or mischief
  • The destruction of evidence of other criminal activities
  • Hatred for a specific group of people
  • Insurance fraud

Arson can come in many forms. The property need not be a typical building. Anything that is destroyed by fire, whether it be a car, a garden, or a painting, is considered arson. Arson isn’t always intentional; if someone accidentally allows property to catch fire due to recklessness or inattention, they could be charged with arson. Explosions can also fall under arson law, though each state has its own rules.

Penalties for arson are typically severe. For situations where no one was endangered, harmed, or killed, you can expect many years of prison if the damage was extensive. Restitution will usually encompass the full value of the damage caused and will often include the cost of deploying the fire department. In addition, fines can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.

5. Vandalism

Vandalism is the intentional act of damaging or destroying someone else’s property. Some examples include spray-painted graffiti, broken windows, or smashed mailboxes. Vandalism often arises from spite, revenge, or even simple boredom.

Unless the damage is very severe, acts of vandalism are usually classified as misdemeanors, with the punishment being a small fine of a few hundred dollars, restitution, and, potentially, a few days in jail. For large-scale vandalism, the sentence can grow significantly.

If you or a loved is caught up in legal proceedings for property crime, you’ll want an ally who can help you with the bonds process and answer questions. Contact Absolute Bail Bonds today. Let us help you return to your best life as quickly as possible.