Theft vs. Burglary: How It’s Defined in Alabama

When people hear terms like theft and burglary, they often have the same general meaning in mind. This should come as no surprise because they are all related to the taking of property that does not belong to the person. If you are facing legal charges related to one or more of these terms, however, it is very important to understand the differences between them. Read through this blog to understand how theft and burglary are defined from a legal point of view.

What Is Theft?

Theft is a fairly broad term that is used to describe almost any unauthorized taking of someone else’s property and using it for your own purposes with the intent to keep it. Common examples of theft include shoplifting, dining and dashing (eating at a restaurant without paying the bill), stealing someone’s wallet, and much more. The penalties for theft will be based on the value of the item that was taken.   

Penalties for Theft

The penalties associated with theft are based on the value of what is stolen. In Alabama, they are as follows:

  • Under $500 – This is fourth degree theft and classified as a class A misdemeanor. Punishment can include imprisonment of up to a year and up to $6000 in fines.
  • $500 – $1499 – This is third degree theft and is classified as a class D felony. First-time offenders likely will not serve prison time, but they will be listed as felons and lose the civil rights that are associated with felony charges.
  • $1500 – $2499 – This is second degree theft in Alabama, which is a class C felony. Penalties can include imprisonment for 1 year and 1 day all the way up to 10 years along with up to $15,000 in fines.
  • $2500 and Over – Any theft or larceny valued $2500 and over is first degree and classified as a class B felony. This can come with penalties including imprisonment of 2–20 years and up to $30,000 in fines.

Other factors can impact the charges. For example, a stolen vehicle is always a first-degree charge, even if its value is under $2500.

What Is Burglary?

Burglary is going to be some type of theft where there was the unlawful entering of a home in order to attempt it. This elevates the severity of charges because of the added potential damage and the violation of the victim’s home, vehicle, or other areas. In almost all cases, burglary is going to be a felony regardless of the dollar value of the items that were taken.

Get Help with These Serious Charges

If you or a loved one is charged with any type of theft or burglary, you need to have a strong legal defense. Our team will discuss your specific situation and help you to get the best possible results. Please contact us to schedule a consultation today.

Written by John M. Totten

John M. Totten

John's office is in Athens, Alabama, where he has helped thousands of people in North Alabama with everything from family law issues, to catastrophic injury and death cases, to criminal defense.