People often assume that burglary equals theft which equals robbery, but that is not true. Why does it matter? Because each charge can carry significantly different penalties.

All three are property crimes, as are arson, vandalism and defacement. But theft means that the crime was limited to stealing property. Shoplifting a sweater is theft. Stealing a company computer is theft (or larceny). Theft may be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the property taken.   

Robbery involves the use or threat of force against a person in the course of stealing their property. If that threat involves a weapon (including the stealing of a weapon), the charge will likely be aggravated robbery. Robberies are almost always felony crimes.

A burglary often involves stealing property, which is why the terms are often confused. But in fact, burglary refers to the unauthorized entering of someone’s structure, with the intent to commit an additional crime. 

Unauthorized entering: To be charged with burglary, you must enter someone else’s property, without permission. 

 Defense against a burglary charge

The prosecutor will have to prove all elements of a burglary charge? Primarily, that you entered a structure without permission; that the type of structure is covered by the law; and that you intended to commit another crime.

 Your defense might include:

  • Arguing that you are innocent 
  • Arguing that you had permission to enter
  • Establishing reasonable doubt about the evidence 
  • Arguing that you entered, but did not intend to commit another crime (for example, you entered only because you were intoxicated, and were too intoxicated to plan a crime)
  • Arguing that you were forced into the situation by someone else (coercion or entrapment) 

Proving intent can be particularly tricky for prosecutors.  Only you really know what you were thinking at the time. So, without a confession, the prosecutor must rely upon circumstantial evidence. 

 Regardless of your innocence or guilt or the evidence, burglary is a serious charge. Get the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. 

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