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Crimes against property include theft, crimes connected to theft, and crimes that invade or damage property. Modern jurisdictions criminalize several forms of theft under consolidated theft statutes that grade theft primarily on the value of the property stolen. Larceny under a consolidated theft statute in many jurisdictions is the physical taking or gaining possession of a victim’s personal property by control and asportation, or a false representation of fact, with the intent to keep the property. Embezzlement under a consolidated theft statute is the conversion of a victim’s real or personal property entrusted to the defendant. False pretenses under a consolidated theft statute is the permanent transfer of ownership of real or personal property or services from the victim to the defendant, based on a false representation of fact. The theft of property of low value is typically a misdemeanor (petty theft), while the theft of property of high value (grand theft) is a felony, felony-misdemeanor, or a gross misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances and the jurisdiction. Federal mail fraud, a felony, is the knowing use of the mail to perpetrate a scheme to defraud.
Extortion is the purposeful theft of property by a threat of future harm such as bodily injury or exposure of the victim’s crime or secret that subjects the victim to hatred, contempt, or ridicule. Extortion is typically graded as a felony. Robbery is the purposeful theft of property from the victim’s person or presence by force or threat of imminent physical harm. Robbery is typically graded as a serious felony. Receiving stolen property is receiving, buying, selling, disposing of, or retaining stolen property with either knowledge or awareness that the property is stolen or knowledge or awareness of a risk that the property is stolen. Receiving stolen property is typically graded as a felony-misdemeanor or a misdemeanor if the property is of low value and a felony if the property is of significant value.
Burglary is either breaking and entering, entering, or remaining on another’s property with the intent to commit a felony, any crime, grand theft, or petty theft once inside. In some jurisdictions, the defendant can burglarize his or her own property. Burglary is typically graded as a serious felony. Criminal trespass is a knowing unauthorized entry onto the property of another. Criminal trespass is typically graded as a less serious felony than burglary, or a misdemeanor if the trespass is into a place, rather than an occupied building or structure. Arson is knowingly burning or damaging by fire property described in the arson statute. Arson is typically graded as a serious felony. Criminal mischief is damaging, destroying, or interfering with property with specific intent or purposely, general intent or knowingly, recklessly, or negligently, depending on the jurisdiction and the degree of the offense. Criminal mischief is typically graded as a less serious felony than arson, a gross misdemeanor, or a misdemeanor.
Read the statute, and then describe the elements of each of the following crimes. Check your answers using the answer key at the end of the chapter.