Criminal Lawyers in Theft Crimes

Theft Crime

Theft Lawyer

Theft, what does it mean?

Theft consists of taking someone else’s property without the owner’s consent and for profit. The penalties for this crime depend on the type of theft and can reach up to three years in prison.

It is a fraudulent offense since, even though there is a profit motive, the accused is always aware that he is carrying out an illegitimate act, infringing on the rights of the other person, specifically, the property right.

Recent Success Cases

Felony Theft

Result: Acquittal

Court: Criminal Court
Accusation: Public Prosecutor's Office
Requested sentence: 1 year imprisonment for theft crime

Larceny Offense

Result: Dismissal

Court: Magistrate's Court
Complainant: Police
Accusation: Theft

The following is an in-depth analysis of the characteristics of this crime.

Table of Contents

The crime of theft in the Criminal Code

The crime of theft is regulated by articles 234, 235, and 236 of the Criminal Code and is a crime against patrimony and the socioeconomic order.

Types of Theft

We are specialized lawyers in theft crimes.

There are different types of theft crimes, depending on how they are carried out, and each has different penalties.

Basic theft

The basic type of crime of theft occurs when the amount of the stolen goods, against the owner’s will, exceeds 400 euros. In this case, the Penal Code punishes six to eighteen months imprisonment.

Misdemeanor theft

When the value of the stolen property does not exceed 400 euros, theft is considered a misdemeanor. Therefore, its penalties are lower. Since it is conceived as a misdemeanor, it is prosecuted through a speedy trial to expedite the proceedings. Petty theft is punishable by a fine of one to three months.

If the value of the goods does not exceed 400 euros, but any of the aggravating requirements are met, which we will discuss below, it will not be considered a misdemeanor but an aggravated theft offense.

Aggravated Robbery

The aggravated type of the crime of theft is that which, with a profit motive, takes other people’s movable property without the will of its owner and is punished in the criminal code with a prison sentence of one to three years, regardless of whether or not the value of the property appropriated exceeds 400 euros.

To be considered aggravated theft, the crimes included in this title must comply with one of the following premises:

  • When they are goods of prime necessity for the victim, significant damage is caused to them.
  • When the goods have an artistic, historical, cultural, or scientific value.
  • If it takes place in agricultural or livestock farms, stealing agricultural or livestock products, as well as the instruments used for their production.
  • When there is severe damage to goods destined for the general interest, such as infrastructures of electric supply or telecommunication services.
  • When the criminal act results in considerable damage to the victim and/or his family, either because of the value of the goods or the damage caused.
  • If minors under sixteen have been used to commit the crime.
  • If the person responsible for the crime belongs to a criminal organization.
  • When to commit the crime, the accused has taken advantage of the victim’s circumstances.
  • If the accused has been responsible for three or more crimes against patrimony and socioeconomic order.

If one or more of these circumstances are present, theft becomes an aggravated crime with harsher penalties.

The theft lawyers at Esteban Criminal Lawyers have significant experience defending clients against charges ranging from shoplifting and petty theft to grand larceny, felony theft, and auto theft. We have extensive knowledge of criminal law and can represent your interests effectively.

Esteban Criminal Lawyers

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Theft of a loaned thing or improper theft

The theft of the borrowed thing, or improper theft, typified in article 236 of the penal code, is a type of theft that occurs when the owner of a good or goods lends said good to another person and, subsequently, the owner subtracts said good that is in the legitimate possession of the other person, thus causing a damage.

If the value exceeds 400 euros, this type of theft is punishable by a three to twelve months fine. On the other hand, if it does not exceed this value, the penalty will be a fine of one to three months.

Theft of use of a vehicle

Article 244 of the penal code punishes anyone who steals or uses a vehicle without the intention of appropriating it but without the owner’s authorization and returns it directly (by giving it to the owner) or indirectly (by informing the owner or authority where the vehicle is located), within less than forty-eight hours.

The fundamental difference between this crime and theft, or robbery, is based on two aspects: the non-intention to appropriate it and the return of the vehicle within the legal term without considering the vehicle’s condition. If the vehicle is not returned within the time limit, it is punishable as theft or robbery.

All those who use the vehicle, and not only the driver, are equally punished with the penalty of community service of thirty-one to ninety days or a fine of two to twelve months.

There is an aggravated modality (aggravated theft of a motor vehicle), when force is used, punished with the penalty of the crime in its upper half.

Famelic theft

Famelic theft does not appear in any precept of the Spanish Penal Code, but it has been admitted in the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court, which has defined it as:

«the one that will concur in those cases in which other people’s property is taken, without the will of its owner, to meet the most primary and peremptory human needs, such as food, clothing, housing and medical-pharmaceutical assistance and in which life or survival itself is not in conflict, with the ownership of other people’s property, but, at least, the suffering that hunger, nakedness, bad weather or unattended illness bring to the human being, come into conflict with the respect for the ownership of other people’s property.»

Famelic theft may mitigate or exclude criminal liability provided that the following requirements are met:

  • That the state of poverty of the defendant or his family is real and not a more or less burdensome economic hardship.
  • It is proven that all the personal, professional, and family resources that could have been used before the theft have been used and that the theft has been strictly indispensable to satisfy the primary needs of the defendant or his family.
  • That there is no other solution than to proceed unlawfully.

Continuous crime of theft

On July 28, 2022, the government introduced in the organic law 9/2022 a new modality of theft to punish multi-recidivist perpetrators of thefts of less than 400 euros.

Specifically, article 234.2 of the criminal code indicates that thefts of amounts less than 400 euros (previously punishable by fine) may be punished with penalties of 6 to 18 months imprisonment if the following circumstances are met:

  • At the time the offense is executed, the perpetrator must have been convicted by final judgment for at least three crimes, regardless of whether they are felonies or misdemeanors;

  • The offenses must be in the same title (against patrimony and the socioeconomic order) and be of the same nature as the theft offense.

  • The sum of the previous convictions must exceed the amount of 400 euros.

  • The criminal record must not have been expunged.

In this way, the category of petty theft is elevated to a less serious crime.

Attempted Theft

The consummation of the theft crime is related to the accused’s free availability of stolen goods. In other words, the consummation of this crime occurs when the victim cannot recover his property.

It is considered an attempt when the theft is not consummated, either because the perpetrator is discovered while committing the crime or because he is pursued and caught after the crime has been committed. Attempted theft carries a penalty that is one or two degrees lower than that of consummation.

Criminal record in theft offenses

The period necessary to be able to cancel the criminal record in the crime of theft is as follows:

Petty theft offense (value of stolen property <400€): The term for cancellation of a criminal record is six months.

Theft offense: The period for the cancellation of criminal records is two years if the penalty does not exceed one year of imprisonment and three years if the sentence imposed exceeds one year.

The statute of limitations is counted from the day following the day on which the penalty is extinguished.

Differences between theft and robbery

In our firm of criminal lawyers in Barcelona, you will find the seriousness and professionalism your case needs.

Both the crime of theft and the crime of robbery consist of appropriating, in an illegitimate way and for profit, the property of others. The protected legal assets are also the same, property and socioeconomic order, and the consummation of both lies in the free availability of the goods.

The difference between these two crimes is that in the crime of robbery, force or violence is used to carry out the criminal act, while in theft, there is no violence or intimidation to persons or force on things, so there is no material or physical damage, being a less serious crime and, therefore, with lesser penalties.

Our Criminal Lawyers in Barcelona, experts in Theft Crimes, will advise you on the steps and procedures to be carried out at all times