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

On Behalf of | Sep 15, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Some people believe that the terms of burglary, theft and robbery mean the same thing: taking another’s property without their permission. However, this is not true. These terms are not interchangeable because the courts use them to label different types of crimes. Not only are these crimes different in nature, but each of them also has its particular penalties.


A person is guilty of theft when they take someone else’s property without their consent and with the intent of depriving the owner of the property in question. In the eyes of the law, property can mean anything tangible, such as documents, pets, vehicles or money. However, stealing services like electricity or gas is also considered as theft. Additionally, in North Dakota, a person is guilty of theft when they receive and retain another’s property while knowing that they got the property by mistake or because the owner lost it.


When a person attempts to hurt or hurts another to get something from them, they commit the crime of robbery. Basically, robbery is theft with violence or physical threats. Contrary to common belief, a victim doesn’t need to be hurt for a crime to classify as robbery. A perpetrator commits robbery just by menacing or threatening the victim from which they want to steal something.


The court convicts someone of burglary when they entered another person’s property, without their consent, to commit a crime inside such property. Sometimes, the illegal action that burglars perpetuate on the property is stealing. Still, a crime counts as burglary if the accused does anything against the law inside the property, such as kidnapping or assaulting someone. In both Minnesota and North Dakota, the penalties for burglary are harsher if the perpetrator commits the offense with a firearm or hurts someone in the process.


Having a criminal charge for any of these crimes can be serious. However, a charge does not necessarily lead to a conviction. Anyone accused of theft, robbery or burglary has the right to present their arguments to the court to avoid the penalties that come with any of these crimes.


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