Property crime charges can range significantly, depending on the specific nature of the charges, but many people still have a very loose understanding of exactly what distinguishes theft from robbery, or how burglary is often entirely separate from either of them.
If you recently received property crime charges, you should not waste any time in building a strong defense. Each day that you wait before is a day that the state of New York has to build a stronger case against you. Regardless of the nature of your charges, you have rights worth defending.
With a clear understanding of the basic differences between theft, robbery and burglary, you can more effectively build a strong defense and protect your rights and future freedoms.
Theft versus robbery
Theft generally means that a person takes property that belongs to another person without authority to do so and does not intend to return the property. There are various degrees of theft, depending on the nature of the property taken, but the underlying principle remains the same.
Robbery is very similar to theft, but involves some use of violence or other threat of harm while taking the property of another person.
A very simple way to think of the differences is the contrast between pickpocketing a wallet and mugging someone for their wallet. A pickpocket commits a theft because he or she merely takes the wallet without the wallet's owner noticing, while a mugging involves using a weapon or merely threatening to harm a person to compel them to give up their wallet.
The addition of violence or the threat of harm is where the distinction between the two lies.
Burglary does not have to involve theft or robbery
Although many people use the terms theft, robbery and burglary interchangeably in casual conversation, burglary is distinctly different from the other two.
Burglary occurs when a person enters a structure unlawfully while intending to commit a crime. That crime does not necessarily have to be theft or robbery, but the two often occur together.
Furthermore, burglary can occur even if a person enters through a standard entrance like an unlocked door. If the entry is unlawful and the person entering intends to commit any kind of crime inside the structure, the burglary occurs.
If you have any more specific questions about property crimes and defending against them, an experienced attorney can consult with you and help you examine these issues more closely.