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How are theft, robbery and burglary different from each other?

If you face New York robbery, theft or burglary charges, possibly you do not know the differences between these property crimes or understand why law enforcement officers charged you with one instead of another. FindLaw explains that while theft, robbery and burglary are somewhat similar, they nevertheless are distinct crimes for which the prosecutor must prove different things when attempting to convict you.

Theft, sometimes called larceny, is the intentional and unlawful taking of someone’s personal property. To convict you of theft, the prosecutor must convince the judge and/or jury that you intended to take your alleged victim’s property and further intended to deprive him or her of it permanently.

Robbery

Robbery is one step up from theft. Here the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you not only intended to take someone’s personal property, but that you did so by means of a weapon such as a gun. In the alternative, you can be convicted of robbery if the evidence establishes that you threatened the alleged victim enough that (s)he feared for his or her physical safety if (s)he did not give you the property.

Burglary

Burglary is a crime based almost entirely on intent. Here you did not have to steal or take anything. All the prosecutor must prove to convict you of burglary is that you unlawfully entered a building with the intent to commit a crime once inside. You did not have to successfully commit the crime. Unlike breaking and entering where you must forcefully break into the building, burglary only requires that you entered it, even if you gained entry through an unlocked door or window.

While this information is not legal advice, it can help you understand the differences between theft, robbery and burglary and what the prosecutor must prove to convict you.

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