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What's The Difference Between Theft, Robbery, And Burglary?

Theft, robbery, and burglary sound like the same idea, but they are different crimes. Theft, simply put, occurs when one person takes an item (piece of property) that does not belong to him / her. Theft does not involve contact between the victim and the perpetrator. Robbery, on the other hand, happens when a person takes someone else’s property directly from the owner. In other words, personal contact and force, coercion or intimidation must occur or the crime is not a robbery.

Unlike theft and robbery, burglary doesn’t require one person to take something that doesn’t belong to him / her. Burglary happens when someone enters a building (such as a home) and intends to commit a felony crime or steal something. The key factor is the perpetrator’s intention, not whether he / she successfully stole something.

Common Defenses for Theft

In order to commit theft, a person must steal an item from another person. If the alleged thief actually owned the item he /she “stole,” no crime was committed. In short, this defense claims that the defendant had a right to claim the property. In some cases, intoxication is a viable defense for theft. If the defendant was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he / she could have been mistaken and not intended to steal the property.

Common Defenses for Robbery & Burglary

  • Innocence
  • Involuntary Intoxication
  • Duress
  • Entrapment

Another potential defense for burglary is an affirmative defense. This defense admits the defendant engaged in the actions held by prosecution, but that the behavior didn’t amount to a crime. If, for example, the defendant was mistaken and entered his neighbor’s home instead of his own, he didn’t intend to commit a crime; he simply made a mistake. Without intent, these actions do not equate burglary.

L. Patrick Mulligan & Associates, LLC is a criminal defense law firm in Dayton. If you’ve been arrested, get in touch with our office today for a free consultation.


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