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What’s the difference between theft, burglary and robbery?

On Behalf of | Sep 3, 2021 | Criminal Defense

It’s understandable to feel confused about the differences between theft, burglary and robbery because many people use the terms interchangeably. However, they do have legal distinctions. For a person facing charges for one of these crimes in Mississippi, it’s good to know how they differ from one another.

Theft

Whenever someone takes another party’s property without their permission, and with the intent to take this item away permanently, they commit theft. In some cases, larceny gets merged with a theft offense. Depending on the value of what gets taken, someone can get charged with either petty or grand theft.

Burglary

When discussing burglary, things get a little more complex. A burglary doesn’t always involve theft. Instead, a burglary occurs when one party enters a property unlawfully while intending to commit a crime in this space. Proving that there was no intent to commit a crime might be a potential criminal defense.

There’s also the issue of whether someone intended to commit a burglary or actually committed this crime. Someone who intends to commit this crime can face less severe punishments than someone who gets charged with committing a burglary.

Robbery

Many people commonly confuse robbery with theft. However, there is one major difference between these two crimes. For a theft to become a robbery, someone must use either physical force or a threat that causes another party to feel fearful. If someone took another person’s wallet because they left it out, that’s theft. This situation would become a robbery if one person assaulted another and took their wallet.

Robbery, theft and burglary all differ from each other under the law. Because of this, the potential punishments for these crimes can also differ in terms of severity. It’s important for individuals accused of these crimes to understand the legal definitions so that they can prepare a defense.