In the state of Florida, many people use the terms “burglary” and “theft” interchangeably. However, burglary and theft are two separate crimes that come with different penalties. In fact, someone could accuse you of burglary without adding a theft charge on top of it.
What are the differences between theft and burglary?
Theft involves stealing another person’s property. When you commit theft, you’re making an intentional decision to take property that doesn’t belong to you. This could be a small property like a power tool or an expensive property like a vehicle. To commit theft, you don’t have to threaten someone, use force or break into their house.
Conversely, burglary involves breaking into someone’s property with the intention of committing a crime. Burglary tends to involve theft, but it could also involve another crime like assault or kidnapping. Unlike trespassing, which is simply entering another person’s property illegally, burglary involves trespassing and committing another crime on top of it.
A theft charge vs. a burglary charge could have a massive impact on the outcome of your case. To get the charges reduced, your attorney might argue that you didn’t enter the other party’s home or business illegally.
What about robbery?
Robbery is the act of threatening someone before you take their property. A common example involves entering someone’s house and robbing them at gunpoint. You don’t even have to show them your weapon–just threatening force is enough to qualify for a robbery charge. In fact, the prosecution might charge you with robbery even if you didn’t have a weapon at the time.
In any case, even a simple misunderstanding could lead to a theft or burglary charge. Fortunately, you still have the right to an attorney. Your attorney could deal with anything from petty theft to grand theft or burglary charges.