Burglary Vs Robbery – Understanding the Difference
It’s common practice for someone who has been the victim of a crime to claim that he has either been burglarized or robbed. While many people use these terms interchangeably, they are actually two very different types of crime. It is especially important to understand the difference if you have been accused of one or the other.
What is a Burglary?
Burglary is a term used to describe crimes usually reported as “breaking and entering” or “break ins.” A burglary is specifically described as the unlawful entry of a structure in order to commit an act of theft or some other type of felony. In most states the term “structure” refers to a physical building. The term does not usually apply to vehicles as most vehicle crimes fall under the category of larceny.
You do not have to force your way into structure, causing damage along the way, to be accused of a break in. If your intent is to commit a theft or felony, even uninvited access through an unlocked window or open door will get you into trouble. Many burglaries involved forced entry, including lock picking, broken windows, or the use of some sort of tool to gain access to the house. In most cases, burglars never have any contact with their victims, often stealing from them when they are not around, occupied with guests (like during a backyard barbeque), or sleeping.
What is a Robbery?
If you have been accused of robbery you may be subject to more serious consequences. A robbery is the act of, or attempt to, take something that does not belong to you from someone else. The difference between a robbery and a burglary is that during a robbery the perpetrator may try to use some sort of threat or force to coerce submission. Most bank thefts and muggings fall into the category of “robbery.”
Acts of robbery are usually split by the legal system into different degrees of offense and these degrees will vary from state to state. If, for example, you are accused of a robbery and only used verbal threats you may fall into one category. If you are accused of using a weapon, on the other hand, you will face a more serious degree and harsher punishments.
You will be accused of aggravated robbery if you use a weapon or lead your victim to believe you have a weapon (whether you do have one, don’t have one, or show it). Having an accomplice present will change the degree you are charged with as well.
It is imperative that you contact a criminal attorney as soon as you are charged with either burglary or robbery. Your lawyer will work with you to clarify your charges, clear your name, or negotiate your sentence – whichever is applicable to your particular situation.