What is the difference between robbery, theft and burglary?
Photo of Attorneys T. Noel Brooks and Jesse Baez walking outside.
Photo of T. Noel Brooks and Jesse Baez

What is the difference between robbery, theft and burglary?

On Behalf of | Jul 2, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Virginia criminal code statutes define the differences between numerous illegal activities, but the public might not know the difference between several crimes that share similarities. For example, people often confuse robbery with theft and burglary. Even individuals charged with such crimes may not be entirely aware of the differences between the three.

Robbery vs. theft vs. burglary

Robbery refers to forcing someone to hand over their property due to violence or the threat of violence. Armed robbery would involve using a weapon to force someone to give up belongings. Strong-arm robbery would involve physical force but no weapon.

Theft centers on taking someone’s property without permission. Theft could focus on someone walking out of a house or business with a computer or another item. Theft may also include deceptive practices, including accepting payment for something never delivered.

Burglary involves entering a property without permission with the intent to commit a crime. Sometimes, burglary involves robbery or theft. Other times, there may be another crime connected to the burglary incident.

Other charges might apply; for example, robbery could include the illegal possession of a firearm. Theft charges may coincide with the possession of tools for committing a crime.

Defending against robbery, theft or burglary charges

Anyone facing criminal charges has the right to defense in court. The charges could be weak ones if the individual had permission to enter or can prove that he or she owned the “stolen” property.

If the police violate someone’s rights, that could undermine a prosecution’s case. For example, a lack of probable cause might lead to a dismissal of charges.

A criminal defense attorney may explain all the charges that a client faces. The attorney may discuss defense strategies or plea bargain deals.