12. What are some common crimes involving the property of others?
Each state adopts its own criminal statutes. Some of the more common types of named criminal offenses against someone else’s property include:
• Larceny – Larceny is the unlawful taking (theft) of personal property with the intent to permanently deprive the rightful owner of it.
• Robbery – Robbery is theft through violence or threat.
• Burglary – Burglary is theft by breaking into a building (sometimes at night) with intent to commit a felony therein.
• Extortion – This is the unlawful obtaining of another’s property though coercion, such as the threat of violence.
• Embezzlement – This is the theft of money by an individual entrusted to hold it.
• Fraud, False Pretenses, and Theft by Deception – Fraud, False Pretenses, and Theft by Deception involve deceiving someone to unlawfully take possession of her property. While fraud generally involves deception, false pretenses and theft by deception requires a knowingly false representation.
There are many statutory and common-law charges involving the property of others. These above-mentioned examples, however, are generally uniform across jurisdictions.
• Discussion: How do you feel about the premise of revoking an individual’s liberty for actions that harm the possessions or property of others? Does the individual’s intent when carrying out these actions influence your opinion?
• Practice Question: What is the difference between larceny, robbery and burglary? What is the difference between extortion and embezzlement? What is the difference between fraud and theft by deception?