Topic: Criminal Defense

Theft, Burglary, and Robbery in Tennessee

Knowing the differences between theft, burglary, and robbery in Tennessee will help you understand the various consequences for each charge. Though they sound similar, slight variations between theft crimes affect each crime’s associated penalties.

Here’s a quick guide to theft, burglary, and robbery in Tennessee:



If you take property or services without the owner’s consent, you’re committing theft. Tennessee law uses theft as an umbrella term that covers embezzlement, false pretenses, fraudulent conversion, larceny, and receiving stolen property.

Charges for theft depend on the value of property or services stolen. The charges can range from misdemeanor to felony. The harshest charge for theft is a Class B Felony, if the stolen items or services are valued at over $60,000. This charge comes with an 8-30 year sentence and a fine not to exceed $25,000.


Burglary is entering a dwelling, such as a home or business, without the owner’s consent or knowledge and with the intent to commit a crime. Breaking into a house and stealing its contents while the owners are sleeping, for example, is aggravated burglary.

The minimum charge for Burglary starts as a Class E Felony, if the structure was a vehicle, which carries a sentence of 1-6 years of prison and a fine of up to $3,000. If the burglary is a business, it is a Class D Felony. However, Aggravated Burglary, which includes entering a residence, can be defined as a Class C Felony.


Robbery is using violence or a threat of physical harm to steal from a victim, so it’s a combination of theft and violence. Of all the theft crimes, robbery can carry the harshest penalty, a Class A Felony, with mandatory prison time.  

The minimum charge for robbery starts as a Class C Felony, for a crime like purse snatching.

Aggravated Robbery is a Class B Felony and carries a sentence of 8-30 years. For the crime to be considered Aggravated Robbery, it must involve both a theft, and either personal injury to a victim or the use of a weapon to commit the crime. Stealing cash while holding up a store clerk with a gun is an example of Aggravated Robbery.

The third type of robbery is Especially Aggravated Robbery, which means that both a theft occurred and bodily harm was inflicted on a victim. This Class A Felony will carry 15-60 years in prison and a maximum fine of $50,000.

Facing any legal troubles involving theft charges can have damaging and far-reaching consequences. An experienced theft attorney will work hard to minimize or your charges or get them dropped altogether.

Contact a Chattanooga Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know is facing charges for a theft crime, an experienced theft attorney will be your best defense. Contact us at 423.531.2800 to set up a consultation with one of our experienced defense attorneys.

Photo by tommaso79 on iStock


Most of us are familiar with the idea of a warrant, but you may not understand the ins and outs of how arrest warrants work. You may even have an open warrant right now, which means you could be arrested at any minute, even if the warrant is years old! Knowing what to do may help you avoid being arrested or detained.

Let’s take a look at what arrest warrants are and how they work in real life.


WHAT is an arrest warrant?

An arrest warrant gives law enforcement officials the right to arrest a crime suspect.

The purpose of an arrest warrant is to bring the person suspected of committing a crime into court to be tried. In addition, a warrant helps ensure the suspect won’t continue committing the same crime or others. The warrant should also keep the individual from obstructing justice or interfering with the investigation.

Related topic: What to do When You’ve Been in a Car Accident

WHO issues a warrant?

Typically, the arrest warrant process begins when a crime is committed out of view of a police officer. A law enforcement official or prosecutor will develop a case that provides probable cause for arresting a suspect. The case will then be presented before a judge in the court of law. If probable cause has been made, the presiding judge will grant the arrest warrant.

The stronger the evidence, the quicker a warrant will be issued.

Since issuing an arrest warrant is a serious decision, most officers and prosecutors try to present solid evidence

WHEN can you be arrested?

Once the arrest warrant process is complete, law enforcement officers can arrest the suspect named on the warrant anytime, anywhere. However, almost every city in the U.S. has thousands of warrants issued at any time, leaving officers inundated with unfulfilled warrants. This is what the term outstanding warrant refers to.

Because so many warrants may be outstanding at once, police officers typically prioritize arrests by the severity of the crime. Occasionally, law enforcement officials hold warrant round-ups, like this one, in concerted efforts to arrest offenders.

Note that if a police officer sees you committing a crime, he or she can arrest you on the spot – without an arrest warrant.

WHAT should you do if there’s a warrant against you?

If you could be a suspect in a theft, murder, rape case or other crime, there may be an outstanding warrant against you. In Hamilton County, you can search the sheriff’s office for open warrants.

Once you’ve confirmed that there IS a warrant in your name, be proactive. Read the warrant information carefully to understand when and why a judge issued the warrant. Also look to see what kind of charges, misdemeanor or felony,  you could be facing.

Next, contact a criminal defense attorney. An experienced attorney will walk you through your options and smooth the process for you. For example, the lawyer may be able to arrange for you to turn yourself in or appear in court for an arraignment, without you having to go to jail.

If you are arrested before hiring an attorney, stay calm, and remember you always have the right to remain silent. Ask to speak to a lawyer before you answer any questions.

Your criminal defense attorney will explain your rights and guide you through every step of the process.

Contact a Chattanooga Defense Lawyer

If you need help addressing an arrest warrant, contact our criminal defense lawyers at Speek, Webb, Turner & Newkirk.

Contact Speek, Webb, Turner & Newkirk
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