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How do burglary and robbery differ?

Burglary and robbery are very similar, but legally distinct concepts that carry separate sentences in a courtroom. Often, the difference between one charge or the other comes down to a some small details, but those details could be the difference between facing fines or community service and facing jail time. It is always wise to know the differences to help protect your rights.

Burglary basically entails gaining unauthorized entry into some structure, usually one that is occupied, with an intent to commit a crime inside that building. It is important to note that the intent to commit a crime is not the same as actually committing any particular crime. It is also important to note that burglary does not entail the use of violence or the threat of violence to another person. In broad strokes, burglary is more about a violation of property than the violation of a person.

Robbery, on the other hand, may not involve any breaking and entering. Rather, robbery involves taking property from another person, either directly or in their presence, with an intent to steal it, and doing so with force or with the threat of force. This could happen inside of a person's home or simply on a sidewalk. In robbery, the key element is an act of violence or the threat of violence. It is important to note that the timing of violence may change the nature of a charge. If you use a knife to threaten a person on a sidewalk and take his or her wallet, this is probably going to be viewed differently by the court than if you break into a home to steal something and knock out the owner of the home when he or she discovers you on the property.

If you face charges of burglary or robbery, or any property crime, it is vital to seek out the best criminal defense that you can. Do not leave your future in the hands of a prosecutor you cannot trust to be fair. With proper legal counsel, you can protect your future and keep your rights secure.

Source: findlaw, "Property Crimes," accessed June 09, 2017

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