Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

Burglary, Robbery, and Theft – What’s the Difference?

Let’s start with how burglary, robbery, and theft are the same. They are all commonly associated with the unlawful taking of another’s property. Theft and robbery do, in fact, always involve this scenario, or an attempt at this scenario. However, burglary doesn’t necessarily involve theft, or even attempted theft. Burglary basically refers to the unlawful breaking and entering of another person’s property with the intent to commit a crime. If you’re facing any of the above charges, contact a Boston defense lawyer today.

  • Theft: Also known as larceny, and petty or grand theft, this is one of the most commonly committed criminal offenses in the United States. Theft is loosely defined as the taking of another’s property without consent. To constitute theft, the individual must have also intended to permanently deprive the owner of this possession. Therefore, a neighbor who “borrows” your lawnmower to mow his lawn while you’re at work, without your consent, is not likely to be charged with theft. You might be angry about this unapproved loan, but it’s not an act of theft.
  • Robbery: The simplest way to explain robbery is to describe it as “theft by force.” Robbery also involves the unlawful taking of another’s property without their consent, and with the intent to permanently deprive them of their possession. However, to be robbery, the property must be taken by force. Consider the following two scenarios, for example: If someone steals your purse from your car while you’re in the store, it’s an act of theft, not robbery. But if someone points a gun at you and demands you hand over your purse, it’s an act of robbery. Even if there is no physical contact and no weapon in sight, an act of theft can still be robbery if the there is a threat of physical violence. Therefore, although robbery is considered a violent crime, no injuries have to be suffered for a robbery conviction to occur.
  • Burglary: The least understood of the three, burglary involves entering a dwelling or structure with the intent to commit a crime in that dwelling or structure. You don’t even have to commit a crime to be convicted; the prosecution just has to show that you intended to commit a crime. Breaking into a structure with the intent to commit a crime is burglary. The structure doesn’t have to be a home, either; it can be a tent, or even a cave. You don’t need to break in using force to commit a burglary; crawling through an already open window can be burglary if all other factors are present. Furthermore, you don’t need to fully enter a structure to be convicted of burglary. If, for example, you reach your arm through an open window and steal a purse, you may be convicted of burglary.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Premier Criminal Defense Law Firm

If you have been charged with burglary, robbery or theft, the skilled defense team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. Our experienced lawyers have extensive experience fighting all types of criminal charges, from theft to assault. We understand that bad things sometimes happen to good people; prison and hefty fines are not always the answer. It is our goal to keep you out of jail and keep your record clean. Our knowledgeable lawyers have an impressive track record of getting clients’ charges reduced, or dismissed entirely. If you are facing criminal charges, we can help. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

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