Theft, Burglary & Robbery

Theft, Retail Theft, & Bad Checks

Often, someone charged with theft, retail theft or bad checks is facing their first encounter with law enforcement.  The grading of these offenses, and resultantly the penalty for a conviction depends on the value of the property allegedly stolen and in the case of retail theft the recidivism of the accused person.  However, even though the person may have an otherwise spotless criminal record and the value in question is low enough to only warrant a misdemeanor charge, the consequences of a conviction may be substantial to that person’s life. 

Any criminal conviction is likely to impact a person’s ability to maintain or gain employment, or be accepted to attend or receive financing for school.  Certainly a felony conviction will exclude a person from a greater number of jobs, schools and or training than a misdemeanor conviction.  However, not all misdemeanors are created equal.  Misdemeanors which involve dishonesty such as theft, retail theft, and bad checks will close many doors because of the nature of the offense.  In fact there are entire industries which may be unavailable to a person with a conviction from a crime of dishonesty.  So, while a conviction for shop lifting might not seem to be of great consequence because of the relatively insignificant value involved – the fact that the person has a conviction for a crime of dishonesty makes it a big deal. 


A burglary occurs when a person enters a building or occupied structure, when that building or occupied structure is not open to the public and the person is not otherwise permitted inside and the person either intends to or does commit a crime therein.  Most often the crime committed therein is a theft - but it does not have to be a theft.  If a person enters a building closed to the public that they are not privileged to enter, with the intent to commit any criminal act – they may be charged with burglary. 

Burglary is graded as either a felony of the first degree or a felony of the second degree depending on whether the building or occupied structure, is adapted for overnight accommodation (such as a home or business with a small apartment attached) and whether or not a person was present when the alleged crime was committed.  However, any burglary conviction is a very serious matter.  A burglary conviction may likely result in a state prison sentence, even for a first time offender. 


A robbery is a theft combined with some application of force.  Where the actor is alleged to have inflicted, threatened or put the victim in fear of serious bodily injury the charge will be graded as a felony of the first degree.  Where the actor is alleged to have inflicted, threatened or put the victim in fear of bodily injury the charge will be graded as a felony of the second degree. Where the alleged theft is from the person of the victim by an application of force, “however slight” the charge will be graded as a felony of the third degree.  All robberies are graded as felonies and thus all robberies carry steep and severe penalties for a conviction. 

The distinction between a robbery graded as a felony of the first degree and a robbery graded as felony of the second degree turns on the severity of the injury inflicted or threatened.  Bodily injury is generally defined as impairment of physical condition or substantial pain.  In contrast serious bodily injury is described as bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death, or that causes serious, permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.  Simply, if a person punches another in the nose and the result is a bloody nose and some bruising, the resulting injury is most likely bodily injury as contemplated by the statute.  However, if a person assaults a person so violently as to cause permanent disfigurement or substantial risk of death, then the injury falls within the definition of serious bodily injury. 

In many cases the injury caused falls into a grey area that is not clearly bodily injury or serious bodily injury.  In fact, the above example of a punch to the nose may be argued as more than or less than a bodily injury depending on the specifics of the particular case.  This is especially true when the government and the defense are arguing not over an actual injury but one that was threatened or that the victim was alleged to have been put in fear of.  In such circumstances it is imperative to have an experienced criminal attorney fighting for you. 

Whether you are charged with retail theft, burglary or robbery having an experienced attorney on your side is critical to your ability to defend yourself against the government’s allegations. I have the knowledge and experience to help you achieve the best possible results. Call 412-238-4050 or click here to schedule a free consultation and we can discuss the specific circumstances of your case.  I offer flexible office hours, including evenings to work around your schedule.  I look forward to meeting you and discussing with you how I can help.