The Difference between Burglary and Robbery

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The Difference between Burglary and Robbery

Theft crimes such as burglary and robbery are often lumped together because of the element of the unlawful taking of someone’s property. While the two crimes are similar, they are not exactly the same.

What Is Burglary? 

Burglary is the crime of breaking and entering into a structure of another with the intent to commit a felony thereafter. The breaking and entering into a structure must be unauthorized. This means the perpetrator does not have permission to enter the building or home.

What Does “Intent to Commit a Felony Thereafter” Mean? 

The individual committing burglary must enter into the property wanting to commit some felony crime. Most people assume that the crime that the perpetrator is intending to commit is theft. However, the crime is not always theft and can be any felony, such as assault, rape, murder, arson, or larceny.

How Is Robbery Different from Burglary?

Robbery is larceny committed with violence, intimidation, or threat of force. Larceny is the unlawful taking and carrying away of property of another with the intent to permanently deprive. For example, a young man walks behind an elderly woman and places a knife against her back. He tells the elderly lady to give her purse to him. The young man has just committed robbery.


The main difference between robbery and burglary is the latter requires breaking and entering into a structure. Robbery does not require breaking and entering a building. Another difference between the crimes is that a weapon or a threat of a weapon must be used in order for the action to be a robbery, but that requirement does not exist for a burglary.

Are the Penalties Different for the Two Crimes?

Yes. If convicted of robbery, a person may be sentenced to:

A burglary conviction involves a possible sentence ranging from 1 year to 25 years, depending on the degree of the charge.

Should I Contact a Lawyer about My Criminal Charge?

If you are facing a robbery or burglary charge, talk to a criminal lawyer. Your lawyer may be able to get the charge dismissed or reduced depending on the circumstances of your case.

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Last Modified: 09-06-2016 03:52 PM PDT

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