What Are the Differences Among Theft, Burglary and Robbery?

In a courtroom, theft, burglary and robbery are very different charges and carry different penalties.

  • Theft. Chapter 18 of the Arizona statutes defines theft as stealing property through various means. It includes fraud, depriving people of using their own property or obtaining services without paying for them. The severity of the crime depends on the property’s value. Stealing property valued at $1,000 or less is a misdemeanor. Of the five classes of felonies, the lowest property value is $1,000. The most serious felony theft is second degree, with property valued at $25,000 or more, and it carries a penalty of three to 12 1/2 years of imprisonment.
  • Burglary. Chapter 15 describes burglary as unlawful entry with intent to steal or commit a felony. Third-degree burglary involves entering a nonresidential structure or fenced commercial or residential yard, or breaking into a car. It is a class four felony. Second degree burglary involves entering or remaining unlawfully in a residential structure, and it is a class three felony. First-degree burglary (the most serious) involves knowingly possessing explosives, a deadly weapon or a dangerous weapon during the commission of burglary. When committed in a nonresidential structure or fenced commercial or residential yard, first-degree burglary is a class three felony. When committed in a residential structure, it is a class two felony.
  • Robbery. Chapter 19 defines robbery as using threats or force against a person to coerce surrender or prevent the person from resisting when stealing property. Robbery is a class four felony. Aggravated robbery is robbery with the aid of one or more accomplices. It is a class three felony. Armed robbery is robbery using or threatening to use a deadly weapon or simulated deadly weapon. It is a class two felony.

Criminal defense attorneys can argue for reduced charges or different classifications of charges. Having an experienced law firm handle your case is vital for an effective defense.