The entertainment industry often portrays burglary and robbery as meaning the same thing. However, different definitions and criteria apply. Knowing the meaning of them helps a victim to accurately respond to the crime.
The law defines burglary as an illegal forced entry into a building or structure with the intention of theft. To be classified as a burglary, it must involve the illegal, forcible entry of a property. In addition to breaking a window or door, turning a handle or illegally removing a screen also count as forcible entry.
To classify as burglary, the intent to commit a crime must be proven. The intent to commit a crime is also an offense, even if the person never entered the building; even having a tool or body part inside the structure counts as burglary. Charges of burglary have a 12% chance of getting cleared.
Robbery is defined as the intent to take something of value from a person using threats or force. An item does not have to be taken to count as robbery. In addition, the item does not have to be worth a specific monetary value. For example, a ring that got stolen may not be made from genuine gold, but it could hold sentimental value for the owner and thus counts as a robbery.
A robbery does not have to include physical harm to the victim. Just the threat of using a weapon to scare them is enough to count it as a robbery. Robbery charges get cleared in 29.3% of cases.
A lawyer who is knowledgeable about defending against theft charges may help someone accused of burglary or robbery better navigate their legal options. The lawyer may be able to get the charges dismissed or negotiate a plea bargain if the accused person does not want to stand trial.