Burglary vs robbery

Updated on April 12th, 2024 at 08:58 pm

When a victim’s property is taken, the incident is often interchangeably referred to as a robbery or burglary. However, there are significant differences between the two crimes and, consequently, different charges.image of a man about to break into a home

Understanding these differences may help you better understand the charges against you or properly categorize and report an incident you or someone you know has experienced.

Robbery vs Burglary

Robbery and burglary are separate crimes, meaning an individual can be charged with both from the same incident. While robbery involves directly taking someone else’s property, burglary covers the intent to take someone else’s property.

Someone unlawfully entering a permanent structure with the intent to take property that is not theirs would be classified as burglary. A permanent structure can be a house, apartment, office building, car, barn, etc. Personal property does not actually have to be taken from the structure to constitute burglary; there must only be a proven intention to commit the crime.

Unlike burglary, robbery directly affects a victim whose personal property has been taken directly from their custody by force, violence, or threat. When someone refers to being mugged, they are more than likely referencing a robbery. Because of this, robbery is considered a violent crime against an individual, while burglary is a property crime.

What Is More Serious Robbery or Burglary?

Because it is a violent crime, robbery is a more significant and dangerous crime than burglary. The consequences reflect the seriousness of the crime, and robbery is almost always a felony penalized with significant prison time and large fines. These consequences ramp up sharply if a weapon is involved.

Burglary is almost always charged with a property crime, and it occurs when victims are unaware or not present at the scene. However, if a burglary becomes violent against a present victim, then a robbery occurs at the same time as a burglary.

What Is the Biggest Difference Between a Robbery and a Theft?

While theft is a crime against property, robbery is a crime against a person. For example, if you steal a pack of gum from a gas station and walk out, that is theft. If you enter a gas station and threaten an employee with a weapon for all the money in the register, that is robbery. Robbery often involves theft, but not always.

Additionally, theft does not have to include a physical object—concepts like services, your identity, or intellectual property can also be stolen and classified as theft.

Difference Between Robbery and Burglary and Theft

  1. Larceny-theft, often referred to simply as “theft,” encompasses the unlawful act of taking someone else’s property without authorization and is best defended by a DC theft lawyer.
  2. Burglary revolves around the unlawful entry into any structure, driven by the intention to commit a crime once inside.
  3. Robbery is the bold act of forcefully or through the use of threats or violence, snatching property or money directly from an individual.

There are many circumstances where more than one of these crimes can occur at the same time; they are not necessarily mutually exclusive from each other. Theft and burglary gone wrong can quickly turn into robbery, which is a very serious charge.

What Is the Highest Form of Theft?

Theft to any degree can be traumatic for the victim; however, some thefts occur more frequently than others. When people think of theft, they often picture home invasions or shoplifting. You might be surprised to hear that wage theft is the biggest type of theft in the United States.

In the US alone, billions of dollars in wages are stolen from employees by the companies they work for every year. Wage theft occurs when an employer fails to pay their employees appropriately or provide the benefits required by law.

Examples may include paying below minimum wage, stealing employee tips, withholding breaks, or not paying for overtime. Food service employees are the most common unknowing victims of wage theft.

Experienced DC Defense Attorney

Being charged with a property crime or violent crime is serious, and it is always a good idea to hire an experienced defense attorney to help you understand your charges and defend your rights. Contact Bruckheim & Patel to set up a free consultation today!

About Bruckheim & Patel

As a former Prosecutor, Michael Bruckheim has experience on the other side of the aisle. Prior to founding his law office in 2010, Mr. Bruckheim enjoyed a diverse career in litigation at the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia (OAG) serving for over 11 years. He began his OAG career as a prosecutor in the Criminal Section where he conducted numerous bench and jury trials in traffic and criminal misdemeanor matters. Mr. Bruckheim was promoted and served as Chief of the Criminal Section at the OAG where he supervised the prosecution of DUI offenses in the District and directed a staff of over 20 attorneys.

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