Burglary? Robbery? Theft? What’s The Difference?
It’s not uncommon to use these words interchangeably. How often do you hear someone talking about how his or her car was burglarized or a jewelry store was robbed in the middle of the night? While we may understand the main point of these stories, it is important to understand the differences between all three, and the difference consequences of each.
A burglar can be best understood as a home or building intruder with the intent of committing a crime or felony. Note that this does not necessarily mean the suspect stole anything from you, although it is the common motive. A burglar can also break in expecting to commit murder or destroy your property.
The sentences provided for a burglary case vary, depending on the state and intensity of the crime. If the offender committed a third-degree burglary, he or she can generally expect a much lower sentence than those who commit first degree. Other considerations, such as criminal history and testimonials of the offender’s character, can also affect the outcome of the case.
You come home from vacation to a window opened; your heart sinks. You unlock the back door and it looks like a bomb had been dropped in your home — lamps shattered, 55” Samsung television is no where to be found, cabinets left open all over the kitchen, and the front door is wide open. Welcome to a scene of a burglary, not a robbery.
Why is this not a robbery? While your things may have been stolen, no one was hurt or threatened in the act. This doesn’t mean the crime is any less severe, but the legal term for the crime committed is burglary. Robbery means you were intentionally or accidentally injured or threatened by the robber while theft was being committed. This can happen on the street or in your very home. If injury does occur, the crime will often be elevated from robbery to “aggrevated robbery.”
Robbery charges are sentenced based on a number of factors, including:
- Presence of a deadly weapon
- Whether there was a murder involved or attempted
- Premises robbed
The most serious type of robbery is a bank robbery. While most robbery cases fall under state jurisdiction, bank robberies fall under federal jurisdiction.
Compared to the former two crimes, theft is generally considered less serious. Legally speaking, theft is considered when two key criteria are met:
- Someone’s property was stolen; and
- The intent of the theft was to deprive the victim of his or her item permanently
The varying degrees of theft are pretty complex, with two main categories:
- Petty Theft
These cases are smaller scale. Generally, the offender steals items worth less than $500 or $1,000, depending on the jurisdiction. These crimes are usually considered misdemeanors.
- Grand Theft
This type of theft means the value for the item(s) stolen exceeds the limit for petty theft. For example, stealing a car from a parking lot or Rolex watch from the store would both classify as grand theft. These crimes are considered felonies and have much more serious punishments than petty theft crimes.
Lindsay Bradshaw is a content developer for The McMinn Law Firm in Austin, Texas. She didn’t realize how different robbery and burglary were until researching the two in depth.
At The Clark Law Firm, we understand that the law can be a tricky course to navigate. If you need help finding your way and have been convicted of a DUI in Boulder Colorado, or are concerned with Drug Offenses, in need of Felony Defense or Misdemeanor Defense, please be sure to contact us immediately. We will hit the ground running to make sure you have the best Boulder Attorney and legal coverage possible!