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Theft, Robbery, & Burglary Defined

People often confuse theft, burglary, and robbery to mean the same thing. The three terms are not synonymous and differ in definition. Not only do each of the three crimes differ in definition they also differ in punishment.

Theft is the most commonly committed crime of the three. Theft is taking someone's property without their knowledge or consent and also with no intention of returning the property. Theft can fall under different categories,

  • petty theft

Petty theft is the theft of low value property. Usually property under the value of $400 dollars is considered theft. The amount can vary from state to state. Examples of petty theft are shoplifting or dining and dashing (eating a meal without paying for it).

  • grand theft

Grand theft is far more serious than petty theft. For the crime to be considered grand theft the property must have a value of over $500. Again the statutory amount can vary from state to state.

Robbery is taking someone's property without their consent with the use of force. The distinctive difference between theft and robbery is the use of force. Physical force, a weapon, or threat can be considered methods of force. The victim does not actually have to be harmed for the crime to be considered a robbery. For example, forcing someone out of their vehicle with a gun can be considered robbery. Hijacking a car with continuous use can be considered grand theft auto.

Burglary differs greatly from both theft and robbery. Burglary involves entrance into a dwelling with intention of committing a crime. You do not actually have to successfully steal anything for it to be considered burglary. Although it is common to use force to enter a building or dwelling this is not the only way you can be charged with burglary. Unlatching the lock on a window and crawling can still fall under this category. Even if you do not successfully enter the building you can still be charged with this offense.

Some people mistakenly confuse burglary with trespassing. The outstanding difference between burglary and trespassing is public property. Trespassing is when someone knowingly enters an area or dwelling. If the area or dwelling is closed off to deter intruders and you enter anyway you may be charged with trespassing. Although you can trespass on private property it is most common in the case of public party that places curfews on the area. Trespassing results in less serious consequences that burglary.

If you have been convicted of theft, robbery, or burglary and are seeking legal counsel feel free to contact us at Kyle Law Firm.

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