People often assume that burglary equals theft which equals robbery, but that is not true. Why does it matter? Because each charge can carry significantly different penalties.
All three are property crimes, as are arson, criminal mischief, and graffiti. But theft means that the crime was limited to stealing property. Shoplifting a sweater is theft. Stealing a company computer is theft (or larceny). Theft may be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the property taken.
Robbery involves the use or threat of force against a person in the course of stealing their property. Robberies is a felony crime in the State of New York.
A burglary often involves stealing property, which is why the terms are often confused. But in fact, burglary refers to the unauthorized entering of someone’s structure, with the intent to commit an additional crime therein.
Unauthorized entering: To be charged with burglary, you must enter someone else’s property, without permission. The property covered can vary, but may include a:
With intent: The prosecutor must show that you entered someone else’s property intending to commit a crime. That crime might be:
You do not have to actually commit the crime, intent alone matters.
Burglaries are also felony crimes and require a skilled criminal defense attorney.
Your defense might include:
Arguing that you are innocent
Arguing that you had permission to enter
Establishing reasonable doubt about the evidence
Arguing that you entered, but did not intend to commit another crime
Arguing that you were forced into the situation by someone else
Proving intent can be particularly tricky for prosecutors. Only you really know what you were thinking at the time. So, without a confession, the prosecutor must rely upon circumstantial evidence.
Regardless of your innocence or guilt or the evidence, burglary is a serious charge. Get the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.