We find that many of our clients facing property crime charges are confused about the differences between theft, robbery, and burglary. If you likewise are unclear about these three related but separate crimes, here is a quick overview.
FindLaw explains that the crime of theft sometimes goes by the name of larceny. The two elements of this crime are intent and action. To receive a conviction, the prosecutor must prove that you stole someone’s personal property with not only the intention to do so but also the intention to permanently deprive him or her of the property.
Basically, the only difference between theft and robbery is the way in which you allegedly stole your alleged victim’s personal property. To receive a robbery conviction, you must have used a weapon such as a gun, knife, etc. to accomplish your purpose, or you must have threatened your alleged victim to the extent that (s)he feared you would harm him or her if (s)he failed to give you the personal property you allegedly intended to steal.
Intent is the main factor in a burglary conviction. The prosecutor must prove that you intended to enter a building unlawfully and that you intended to commit a crime once inside. Unlike breaking and entering which requires that you broke into the building, a burglary conviction only requires that you illegally entered it. You could have gone in through a door or window that was unlocked. Whether or not you actually stole something or committed any other crime while inside the building is completely irrelevant.
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