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What Is the Difference Between Robbery and Burglary?

What Is the Difference Between Robbery and Burglary?

What Is the Difference Between Robbery and Burglary?

The words “burglary” and “robbery” are often used interchangeably by the average person. However, these words are not interchangeable in legal jargon. A burglary and a robbery are legally different crimes and have different penalties. What is the difference between robbery and burglary, and how do these differences affect you if you are facing charges?

The Definition of Robbery

According to the Colorado criminal code, robbery is the act of taking something of value from another person through the use of force, threat, or intimidation. Effectively, this means that if you are charged with robbery, you are being accused of assaulting someone for the specific purpose of obtaining an object of value from them. The law does not explicitly define what is “something of value,” so robbery charges could potentially be applied to someone who tries to strongarm another person into giving them a service rather than a physical object or money.

The Definition of Burglary

Unlike robbery, there are several degrees of burglary in the Colorado criminal code definition of burglary. The least serious version of this crime, third-degree burglary, is when a person breaks into an object that holds money (like a cash register or safe) to commit a crime (typically stealing the money within). The important difference here between burglary and robbery is that another person wasn’t involved. The person charged is accused of stealing property through destruction of property, rather than through threat or harm to another.

The more serious degrees of burglary involve breaking into a building or unlawfully remaining in a legally entered building after being legally ordered to leave. If the person who does either of these things only intends to trespass, they are not committing burglary, they are just trespassing. However, if they intend to commit another crime (typically theft), then the act of breaking in becomes burglary, even if they don’t commit another crime.

Both robbery and burglary are crimes that usually involve theft. However, robbery is enacted via assault while burglary is enacted via breaking and entering.

Can You Be Charged With Both Burglary and Robbery?

Burglary and robbery are not, by definition, mutually exclusive. However, it is unlikely that you will be charged with both crimes. Robbery is effectively a theft during an assault, while burglary is essentially a theft while trespassing. It is possible to commit assault while trespassing for the purpose of committing a theft, but this scenario is covered by first-degree burglary. Thus, if you broke into a house, stole some money, and assaulted the homeowner on the way out, you would most likely be charged with burglary rather than robbery.

The situation where someone is likely to be charged with burglary and robbery is one where they break into a structure, rob it, and then assault someone to steal something on their person while committing the burglary. Those subtle differences could confuse juries, though, so a prosecutor is likely to focus on the crime that is easier to prove or the one that results in a higher penalty.

If you were arrested for robbery or burglary in Colorado, you could potentially be facing years of prison time if found guilty of one of these crimes. Protect your rights by talking to a lawyer immediately. Contact the Law Office of Kevin Cahill today at 720-445-9887 to schedule a consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

Penalties for Burglary and Robbery

Robbery is always charged as a class 4 felony. However, burglary can be charged as lightly as a class 2 misdemeanor and as severely as a class 3 felony depending on the circumstances. This means that a robbery conviction will always result in between two and six years of prison. Conversely, the lightest penalty for a burglary conviction is at most only 120 days in jail, and the heaviest penalty is between 4 years and 12 years in prison. Furthermore, if you are convicted of a felony, you will lose your right to vote and own firearms.

Thefts That Don’t Count as Burglary or Robbery

Robbery and burglary do not cover all types of theft. You don’t need to assault someone or break into a home or object to commit theft. For example, if you put your bag down while waiting for a bus to arrive, someone could walk by and snatch it while you weren’t looking. That person stole your property but did it without assaulting you or breaking into your property. It is still a crime. That person, if caught, would be charged with theft.

Burglary Doesn’t Have to Involve Theft

The other major difference between burglary and robbery is that burglary doesn’t have to involve theft. Robbery, by definition, is just theft through assault. However, burglary is breaking and entering with the intent of committing a crime other than trespassing. Typically, the intended crime is theft. But it doesn’t have to be.

For example, it is burglary if you break into someone’s home to destroy their TV. That destruction of their property isn’t theft, but it is still a crime. This means that a burglary charge should always be combined with another charge. To successfully get a guilty verdict in a burglary case, the prosecution doesn’t have to prove that you committed the other charge; they only have to prove that you intended to commit it.

Contact the Law Office of Kevin Cahill When Facing Burglary or Robbery Charges

Burglary and robbery charges are not something to be taken lightly. You could be facing up to 12 years in prison if convicted for one of these types of criminal charges, and you could face even more if the prosecutor hits you with additional charges. Understanding the differences between these types of charges is just the first step in avoiding being found guilty.

The most important step is consulting with an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney. Contact the Law Office of Kevin Cahill at 720-445-9887 today to learn about your legal options and discuss your case with a lawyer who can help.

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