Definition of Property Crimes
Property crimes are generally those offenses that target property rather than people. There is no particular codification of property crime as such in Oklahoma. Property crimes are codified according to the facts of a particular crime.
Larceny, burglary, shoplifting, auto theft, vandalism, embezzlement and arson are often considered to be property crimes. While penalties for property crimes can be severe, the penalties in general tend to be less than those for crimes against persons. In many cases, Oklahoma drug crimes even entail more serious penalties than property crimes.
A Vague Distinction
The difference between a property crime and crimes against persons might not always be clear. As Tulsa lawyers, we know the weight of prosecution might lean more heavily against a defendant when violence or threats of violence are alleged. Robbery targets property but does so by threat of violence or force. The FBI classifies robbery as a violent crime. Wikipedia writers, on the other hand, at least sometimes have considered robbery to be a property crime. What matters more than the classification, and of course the evidence in a particular case, is how prosecuting attorneys think they might represent allegations to jurors.
Burglary of an occupied house, on the other hand, might be considered a property crime. Burglary appears in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting data as a property crime. Yet, the Oklahoma Firearms Act of 1971 presumes that a person who unlawfully and by force enters an occupied dwelling or residence of another intends to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1289.25
Although property crime in Oklahoma is not a statutory classification per se, it is among the most common classifications of crimes. The FBI Uniform Crime Reporting system recognizes only property crimes and violent crimes. By that method, all other crimes can be classified into two categories.
Crimes Against Public Property
Oklahoma’s criminal code sets out one specific type of property crime for particular attention. Crimes against state property and revenue include public-property crimes like embezzlement of state property and destruction of public buildings. Embezzlement of public property can result in considerably harsher penalties than embezzlement from a business.
For our purposes as Tulsa lawyers, we tend to recognize more than two simplified categories of crimes. We might consider some crimes to be victimless crimes, although another view might consider the same acts to be crimes against society.
Oklahoma statutes designate some acts as “Crimes against Religion and Conscience.” The classification in some cases might be meaningful, while other statutes under that heading — blue laws against selling cars on Sunday, for example – might be archaic and unenforceable.
We recognize drug crimes as a category that at a minimum receives strict attention from legislatures and prosecutors. Crimes related to legal processes or crimes against public justice comprise another group that might as easily be classified as a crime against society.
If you are charged with a property crime, the facts of the case can be particularly important. What might be petit larceny resulting in a short jail sentence under one roof could be larceny from a house if committed under another roof. The difference between larceny from a house, burglary of an occupied dwelling and robbery might be a few trivial words or acts but the difference under the law can be significant.
Free Consultation: Tulsa Criminal Attorney
Whether you are charged with an Oklahoma property crime, a person crime or some other type of crime, it is important that you retain a Tulsa attorney who knows how to defend against charges that can result in jail or prison sentences. A Tulsa criminal attorney can advise you on a strategy to best pursue in your own defense.
For a free, confidential consultation with a criminal defense attorney in Tulsa, call Wirth Law Office at (918) 879-1681 or send your question using the form at the top of this page.