You might be facing charges due to taking items that don't belong to you, or perhaps a loved one is being charged with burglary. You might wonder if there is a difference between the words theft, robbery, and burglary or if these words are just used interchangeably.
Are there actual differences between theft, burglary, and robbery? Yes, there are differences, and it depends on how the crime was committed.
Theft crimes are usually the least harsh term out of the three. This is because when you are charged with theft, it means that the person being accused may have taken items without the consent of the owner or someone who has the ability to give consent. It also means that the person took an item by deception, meaning they lied to whoever had the item and said they had permission to take it.
It also is considered theft if the item is taken by threatening the owner or if they intimidated the owner into giving the item up.
The charge can be either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on what was taken. For example, a firearm, a car, credit card, and dangerous drugs are considered felonies.
When a person is charged with robbery, this tends to be a more serious crime than theft. When a person is charged with robbery, it typically means that they used or were armed with some kind of deadly weapon. They may have used or attempted to use force and physically harmed the owner of the item. They may also have used threats or intimidated the victim into complying.
Robbery tends to carry a longer prison sentence if convicted and depending on what level of degree felony the charge is. It is not always the case that you could avoid being charged with a robbery if you didn't threaten to use the weapon you may have had, you simply need to have it in your possession. If you actually used the weapon, this charge could be raised to aggravated robbery.
Burglary charges don't always mean the person has broken into a house and stolen items there. You don't actually have to steal anything in order to be charged with burglary. You could be charged with burglary if you have trespassed onto a property -- either a house or business -- by force or have gained access by sneaking onto the property or by deception.
The purpose for gaining access to the property must be for the reason of committing a crime. You don't have to have taken anything to be charged with burglary -- you just have to have the intent to.
For more information on how these definitions affect your charge, contact a criminal law services provider.