A number of news sources and think tanks have been raising the alarm regarding violent crime in America. You only have to turn on the news to see men and women – brows furrowed, mouths drawn tight – bemoaning the increase in crime across the country.
To some extent, they are correct; the Brennan Center for Justice (BCJ) reports that violent crime increased by 5.2% overall in 2020, specifically for murders (28.9%) and aggravated assaults (11.7%). Tennessee is not immune to this trend, though its percentages are smaller: murders increased by 1.16% between 2020 and 2021, and aggravated assault went up by 1.43% during the same time, per the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Three types of, per the BCJ, that decreased, however, are robberies (-9.6%), burglaries (-7.7%) and larcenies, or thefts (-10.9%) But just because numbers are lower doesn’t mean they are acceptable. In 2021, there were nearly 23,000 reported burglaries and 5,000 robberies in Tennessee.
Not too long ago, two men were arrested for robbing a Columbia grocery store. They reportedly assaulted an employee after threatening him with a gun and then stealing money out of the cash register. Police were able to track the two men down and detain them after their getaway vehicle crashed and caught on fire.
Sadly, that was not an isolated incident in this Tennessee area. A few months later, a convenience store employee was robbed at gunpoint in Franklin. The three men involved continuously threatened the employee as they assaulted him and ran off with an undisclosed amount of cash. Unfortunately, only one of the three robbers was caught in this case.
Over 60% of robberies involve the use of a gun
While some thieves do not use any type of weapon at all during an offense, the Tennessee Crime Statistics website reports that 60.2% of robberies in 2021 involved the use of a gun. Personal weapons, like hands, fist, feet, and teeth, are the second most-used weapon, but they are used merely 19.6% of the time. That means if there is a robbery, the criminal is more than likely carrying some type of firearm.
However, not every crime is violent
Not every criminal makes a grand entrance when they commit a crime. Some thieves act quietly in hopes that they will not be caught stealing personal belongings or merchandise off of store shelves. That was the case for these two suspects a few months ago. Without using any threats or force, two people were suspected of stealing a woman’s wallet out of her purse as she shopped at a store in Franklin. They then used her credit card to make over $3,000 worth of purchases at two different local stores.
Robbery, theft, and burglary are three very different crimes
While the terms “robbery,” “theft,” and “burglary” are often used interchangeably when describing a crime, Tennessee recognizes these as three completely separate offenses with three separate punishments. There are minor differences in the details, but it is important to recognize why police officers use separate terms.
What is robbery?
When someone takes another person’s property without their consent and uses threat or force to get it, it is considered a robbery. A victim must be present in order for this to be considered a robbery. In the state of Tennessee, robberies are considered felonies because of the violence it encompasses, no matter what was actually stolen.
What is theft?
Theft is also known as larceny. These terms are actually the same and can be used interchangeably. It is when someone takes another person’s property without their consent and with no intention of returning it. This type of crime can be more severe depending on what was stolen. If the stolen property is valued at $500 or less, it is a misdemeanor. If it is valued at more than $500, then it is a felony.
However, there are quite a few different kinds of theft:
- Embezzlement – When one person who was entrusted with another person’s money intentionally misappropriated the assets. Ponzi schemes are a clear-cut example of embezzlement. Let’s say an older man gave his financial advisor about $1,000 to invest. Instead of actually investing that money, the financial advisor uses it to pay off their personal debts. The financial advisor just embezzled the older man’s money.
- Larceny – There are four elements to committing larceny: taking and carrying away someone else’s property with the intent to steal. Imagine a woman went into a drug store and pocketed a few tubes of lipstick then walked out without paying for them. She just committed larceny at a misdemeanor level.
- Grand larceny – This is essentially the same as a regular larceny, except the property was valued at significantly more money. Say instead of going into a drug store, that woman walked into an electronic store and hid a new laptop under her jacket then walked out without paying for it. Since that laptop is valued at more than $500, she just committed grand larceny, which is considered to be a felony.
What is burglary?
Burglaries do not actually require any property to be stolen for it to be considered a crime. As long as a person breaks into another person’s property without consent, they can be charged. No further crime needs to be committed in order for it to be considered a burglary, and the person who entered without consent does not even need to enter the property by force. Simply walking through an unlocked door can result in a burglary charge. Burglaries are still considered to be felonies and can result in prison, probation, and a hefty fine.
Per 24/7 Wall St., “An estimated 29,869 break-ins were reported in Tennessee in 2019, or 437 per 100,000 state residents — the 12th highest rate among states.”
Fighting a misdemeanor or felony charge in Tennessee is not easy. If you have been charged with robbery, theft, or burglary, the Franklin attorneys at the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates may be able to help. They will explore the evidence of your case and determine the best way to fight for you. Call our office, or submit a request through our contact form to schedule an appointment in Franklin, Columbia, or Brentwood today.