What Is the Difference Between Theft, Robbery and Burglary?

Differences Between Theft, Robbery and Burglary Charges

Despite the fact that the public often uses theft, robbery and burglary interchangeably in conversation, these are distinctly different charges and do not mean the same thing in the eyes of the court. If you or someone you know faces charges related to one or more of these crimes, you should examine your legal options very closely, to make sure that you do not miss out on any important defense opportunities.

The longer you wait to begin building a defense to these charges, the more time that you afford your prosecution to build a case against you without any obstruction. Ultimately, this makes it more difficult for you to build your defense, and leaves you less time to do so. If you value your rights and freedoms, do not brush this responsibility aside.

What is Theft

While it is never ideal to receive criminal charges, it is generally better to receive theft charges than robbery or burglary charges. Theft occurs if you take property that belongs to someone else, without their permission and without intending to give the property back. It is important to understand that simple theft does not involve any acts of violence or threats, merely taking property from someone else.

These charges do carry serious legal weight, but receive lesser sentencing than their more serious counterparts because they do not involve violence or threat.

What is Robbery

Robbery is essentially theft that involves either an act of violence or threat of violence. If, for instance, you were to snatch another person’s purse or wallet and run away, this would probably only constitute theft. However, if you approach another person and threaten harm if he or she does not hand over a wallet or purse, this likely constitutes robbery, because of the added element of violence.

While this may seem like a small distinction, it is a very significant distinction in the eyes of the law.

What is Burglary

Burglary is often the most misunderstood of all three charges. Burglary occurs when a person enters a structure of some kind unlawfully, while intending to commit a crime. This may include a home or business, or an area of an office that an employee does not have authorization to enter.

Once the individual enters the structure, he or she may commit burglary even if he or she intends to commit a crime, but never does. This crime does not have to include taking the property of others, but could be something else entirely.

In order to fight property crime charges of any kind, you must build a strong, personalized defense. Do not wait another day to begin assembling a defense that directly addresses your legal needs and keeps your rights and privileges protected.

Theft, robbery, or burglary?

These two terms are sometimes used interchangeably in casual conversation, but in the legal world they are distinctly different. These distinctions are important to understand, because they may mean the difference between a simple property crime and violent crime with serious consequences.

Robbery and theft are very similar, and can happen anywhere. Theft involves taking someone else’s property without that person’s permission and without intending to give it back. Theft graduates to robbery when the individual or individuals taking the property of someone else to use force or the threat of harm to do so.

If, for instance, a person walks into a store, grabs a drink, and runs out the door, that person has probably only committed a theft. However, if the same person walks into a store, pulls out a gun and waves it around while grabbing a drink, and then points it at the cashier and walks out of the store, this is probably going to count as a robbery.

Burglary may involve taking the property of others, but it is actually a charge for illegally entering a building of some kind to commit a crime. That crime may or may not involve theft, and the person may enter the structure any number of ways, even through a door he or she is not legally authorized to enter.

For instance, a person may enter a restaurant after hours and use the kitchen to prepare controlled substances, or host unauthorized gambling. The crimes could qualify the act as burglary, even if the suspect cleans up afterward, including the part of the grill that everyone hates to clean.

Get the help you need to build a strong defense

Every day that you wait to begin building your legal defense against property crime charges is a day that your prosecutor has to build a stronger case for your guilt. Do not wait to begin examining the details of your arrest, seeking out all the professional guidance you need. It is crucial that you do everything you can to protect your legal rights and privileges, for your own sake and for the sake of those you love.

Have you been charged with a crime? See our Criminal Defense service page for help now.

Have you been charged with a crime? Contact Levine Law.

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