Differences Between Burglary and Robbery in the Eyes of the Law

Robbery and burglary might be synonymous according to the Oxford dictionary, but the legal definitions of these two theft crimes are quite different. In fact, burglary is not even a theft crime in all circumstances.

Burglary can be defined as entering someone’s property with the intention of committing a crime. People have come to assume that burglary is automatically a theft crime solely because most perpetrators who are caught burglarizing an establishment are doing so to steal something of value. Furthermore, breaking into and entering a building is not even required for a burglary charge, you simply need to be there to commit a crime and put some portion of your body inside the structure, like your leg or arm.

Imagine the following scenario: A man enters a retail location during its normal hours of operation and acts suspicious enough to draw attention, and eventually the police detain him. He admits he was there to assault an employee but could not locate them. Although nothing was stolen, or even attempted to be stolen, and no property was damaged upon entrance, the man could be charged with burglary.

Robbery is a theft crime in all cases, and is defined in legal statutes as taking something from someone with force. The ‘force’ in question does not need to be physical violence but merely the threat of it, such as saying you will hit someone if they do not hand you their wallet. The ‘something’ in robbery does not have to be an item directly owned by the victim but just something they control, such as money out of a cash register drawer. But in every case of robbery, stealing, violence, and a victim’s presence is involved in one way or another.

Do You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney?

The differences between robbery and burglary can start to feel moot if you are the one being accused of a theft crime. Either way, the consequences could include high fines to the state, restitution to the alleged victim, and time spent in jail or prison, depending on the value of the item that was stolen. If you live in Southern California, let our Riverside County criminal defense Attorney from Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich represent and defend you.

Call us at (951) 506-6654 to schedule your free initial consultation.


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