Understanding the Differences Between Theft, Robbery, and Burglary

While there is some public confusion regarding what constitutes theft, robbery, and burglary charges, in the legal system, the definitions and differences are very clear.

At Lotze Mosley, LLP, our fraud defense attorneys in Washington D.C. and Maryland provide real-time solutions for clients who are facing criminal charges, so they can face the prosecutor’s office with confidence — inside and outside the courtroom — including those who are charged with theft, robbery, or burglary.

What Is the Difference Between Theft, Robbery, and Burglary?

The crimes of theft, robbery, and burglary are commonly lumped into one description since they each have similar components of taking — or attempting to take — property that is not the perpetrator’s own.

From a legal standpoint, the definitions and penalties are very different.

  • Theft

Theft is one of the most committed crimes throughout the United States and involves taking someone else’s property without the owner’s consent.

Theft requires the intention to permanently deprive the owner of its use or possession.

Common types of theft include property theft, including shoplifting, and identity theft.

  • Robbery

Robbery is the act of taking something by using the threat of force, actual force, intimidation, or violence to do it.

While robbery involves taking someone’s property without the owner’s consent, it has some elements that theft does not require.

Robbery is a violent crime, even when the victim does not suffer any type of injury.

  • Burglary

Burglary charges require an individual to enter a structure or dwelling with the intent to commit a crime within it.

Burglary laws have become very broad and only require that the person enters any structure, which can include homes, nonresidential buildings, natural formations, and even temporary structures, with the intent to commit a crime inside.

You do not have to use force or violence to enter a structure to commit a burglary.

What Are the Penalties for Theft, Robbery, and Burglary Charges?

Theft, robbery, and burglary charges can range from misdemeanors to felonies, resulting in probation, fines, and even jail time.

The exact charges are unique to each crime and the person committing it, and the penalties will be enforced based on the type of crime, including embezzlement, fraud, or armed robbery. The penalties will also directly correlate to the amount taken, the force used, and the person’s criminal history.

If you have been charged with theft, robbery, or burglary, do not face the prosecutor’s office alone. Contact our Washington D.C. criminal defense lawyers at Lotze Mosley, LLP at (202) 393-0535 to learn how our lawyers can help you pursue the best outcome for your case today.