What’s the Difference Between Burglary and Robbery

What’s the Difference Between Burglary and Robbery

If you think that burglary and robbery are the same thing, you’re not alone. Most of us have the same assumption, but when it comes to the law, they are two different types of crimes.

One of the biggest distinctions between the two is that burglary is treated as a property crime while robbery is recorded as a violent crime committed against a person. Based purely on that description, you can probably guess which is treated as the more serious crime.

One of the interesting things about the burglary is that all you have to do is enter a property without the owner’s permission to be charged and you do so with the intention of taking something. It doesn’t matter if you’ve taken anything. Simply being there is enough. You will also likely be charged with trespassing at the same time.

The FBI defines robbery as the act of, “taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear.”

So if you simply enter someone’s property with the idea of stealing their new grill, but you don’t act in a threatening manner, you’ll be charged with burglary. If you go onto the same property for the same grill and threaten the owner until they give you the grill, you’ve committed a robbery.

Robberies have a much higher clearance rate. There are two reasons for this. The first is that by making threats, you made your intentions of taking something very clear. When dealing with a suspected burglary, police sometimes have a difficult time proving intent, and without intent, there’s no burglary charge, merely trespassing.

The second reason that robberies have a much higher clearance rate is that police are able to allocate more funds to robbery investigations. Better funding means a more thorough investigation.

If you’re convicted of first-degree robbery in California, the judge could sentence you to 9 years in a state prison. You could also be ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and possibly restitution. A second-degree robber conviction can result in a 5-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine.

A first-degree burglary charge in California has a potential sentence of 6 years in prison. A second-degree burglary conviction can result in a 16-month stay in a county jail.

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Burglary in California

Burglary in California

Burglary is addressed in California’s, Penal Code 459 PC. The law clearly states, “Every person who enters any house, room, apartment, tenement, shop, warehouse, store, mill, barn, stable, outhouse or other building, tent, vessel, as defined in Section 21 of the Harbors and Navigation Code, floating home, as defined in subdivision (d) of Section 18075.55 of the Health and Safety Code, railroad car, locked or sealed cargo container, whether or not mounted on a vehicle, trailer coach, as defined in Section 635 of the Vehicle Code, any house car, as defined in Section 362 of the Vehicle Code, inhabited camper, as defined in Section 243 of the Vehicle Code, vehicle as defined by the Vehicle Code, when the doors are locked, aircraft as defined by Section 21012 of the Public Utilities Code, or mine or any underground portion thereof, with intent to commit grand or petit larceny or any felony is guilty of burglary. As used in this chapter, “inhabited” means currently being used for dwelling purposes, whether occupied or not. A house, trailer, vessel designed for habitation, or portion of a building is currently being used for dwelling purposes if, at the time of the burglary, it was not occupied solely because a natural or other disaster caused the occupants to leave the premises.”

While that tells you what California lawmakers think burglary is, it doesn’t list the consequences of what will happen if you’re convicted of burglary.

In California, the consequences of a burglary conviction depend on what you broke into. For example, if you are caught in a car that isn’t yours, but you haven’t actually taken it anywhere, you’ll be charged with auto burglary, which has a 3-years in jail maximum sentence. On the other hand, if the police catch you in someone’s house, you’ll face a potential 6-year jail sentence.

Just like with murder, burglary is broken into a first- and second-degree offense.

You’ll be charged with first-degree burglary if you broke into someone’s residence. In California, first-degree burglary is always a felony. If convicted you will go to a state prison. 

If you broke into a different type of building, such as a store or a tool shed, you’ll be charged with second-degree burglary. Second-degree burglary is one of California’s wobbler laws. Your history and what you intended to do once you entered the building determine if the court pursues misdemeanor or felony charges.

If you’re convicted of second-degree misdemeanor burglary, you could be sentenced to a single year in county jail. If you’re convicted of second-degree felony burglary, you could be sentenced to as much as three years in a state prison. 

It’s important to understand that the only thing the prosecutor has to prove in a burglary case is that you intended to enter the building without permission. That means you can be charged and convicted of burglary even if you never get into the building.

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Understanding Reckless Endangerment

Understanding Reckless Endangerment

Reckless endangerment is a charge that’s filed against you when the police believe you’ve done something that posed a serious risk to another person or a group of people. It doesn’t matter if you intended to actually harm the people impacted by your decisions, all that matters is that you behaved in a manner that is considered reckless. One example of reckless endangerment is continuing to commute to work in your vehicle despite knowing that your brakes aren’t working. Another example is a couple who decided to fly while ill despite being told not to.

In California, a person is rarely charged with just reckless endangerment. It’s usually connected to another charge such as drunk driving, child abuse, burglary, etc.

In California, reckless endangerment often gets tangled up with criminal neglect. The two charges are basically the same thing. People have been charged with criminal neglect after they’ve left a weapon somewhere that a small child was able to access it.

The good news is that, for the most part, people who simply make a poor choice in the spur of the moment are rarely charged with reckless endangerment or criminal neglect. As a rule, the law only steps in when the action is truly outrageous. In many cases, the authorities only become aware of the situation when they are investigating a different crime. 

Many factors influence the consequences of getting found guilty of reckless endangerment or criminal neglect in California. Possible repercussions include:

• Large fines
• Restitution
• Having to spend time in jail
• Probation
• Community service

The best way to avoid a reckless endangerment charge is taking a few minutes to consider if an action you’re about to take has the potential to negatively impact another person’s life.

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Is There a Difference between These 3 Crimes?

Is There a Difference between These 3 Crimes?

When it comes to legal stuff, there is a lot that the general public doesn’t know, and it’s understandable. Anyone who has ever tried to read a law before has come face to face with the seemingly cryptic language known as legalese. That stuff is not easy to understand and so it’s only natural that people don’t have a perfect understanding of the thousands of laws in existence here in California.

A common misconception is that theft, burglary, and robbery are all the same crime. However, they are not. The law views each one differently. Each crime has specific circumstances tied to it that helps distinguish it from the others.

What Is Theft in California?

Theft is defined under California Penal Code (PC) 484 as the wrongful taking of someone else’s property. This can be done in a number of ways, such as taking an item, or money, when no one is looking or lying to get someone to hand over an item or money.

This crime is broken up into two categories, petty and grand. Which category a person falls into depends on the monetary value of what was stolen. If the monetary value of the stolen goods is under $950, then the thief will be charged with petty theft. If the monetary value is over $950, then the person will face grand theft charges.

The consequences for theft are dependent on which version a person has been accused of. For petty theft, a person faces misdemeanor charges that come with:

• Up to 6 months in county jail.
• A max fine of $1,000.

If the person has been charged with grand theft, they can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony. As a misdemeanor, a person faces:

• Up to 1 year in county jail.
• A max fine of $1,000.

If grand theft is charged as a felony, a person faces:

• 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in county jail.
• A max fine of $10,000.


What Is Burglary?

Burglary is defined by PC 459 as entering a structure or vehicle with the intent of committing a crime. As far as this law is concerned, a person is guilty as soon as they enter the building or vehicle, regardless if they actually stole anything after that. All this law is concerned with is entering a place with the intent of committing a crime.

As with theft, burglary is also broken down into two categories: first- and second-degree burglary. First-degree burglary occurs when a person burglarizes a residence. Second-degree burglary occurs when a person burglarizes a commercial building.

This law is a wobbler, meaning that it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. How it is charged depends on the facts of the case. First-degree burglary is always charged as a felony and comes with:

• 2, 4, or 6 years in state prison.
• A max fine of $10,000.
• Felony probation.

Second-degree burglary can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. As a felony it carries the following consequences:

• Up to 1 year in jail.
• A max fine of $1,000.
• Misdemeanor probation.

When charged as a felony, the crime comes with:

• 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in county jail.
• A max fine of $10,000.
• Felony probation.


What Is Robbery?

In California, the crime of robbery is defined under PC 211 as taking something from someone’s immediate presence against their will through the use of force or fear. Basically, this means that a person took something from someone by force. An example of this crime would be using a gun to take a woman’s purse from them.

Again, as with the other 2 crimes, robbery can be broken down into two categories: first- and second-degree robbery. First-degree robbery occurs when one of the following is true about the case:

• The victim was driving some sort of motor vehicle.
• The crime took place in some sort of residence.
• The victim had just visited an ATM.

Second-degree robbery occurs when a robbery doesn’t meet any of the above qualifications.

First-degree robbery is a felony that comes with:

• 3, 4, or 6 years in state prison.
• A max fine of $10,000.
• Felony probation.

Second-degree robbery is also a felony, and it comes with:

• 2, 3, or 5 years in state prison.
• A max fine of $10,000.
• Felony probation.


They Are Different

When written out in plain English, it is easy to see the differences between these crimes. Theft is stealing something, robbery is forcibly stealing something from a person’s immediate possession, and burglary is entering a structure with the intent of committing a crime. Burglary doesn’t have anything to do with stealing at all.

The consequences that a person faces depends on which crime the person has been accused of. Theft has much lighter consequences than robbery does due to the nature of the two crimes. Robbery is inherently more violent and threatening. Meanwhile, burglary consequences can be a bit light, but that is likely due to the fact that a person will probably face other charges on top of the burglary charge.

The bottom line is, even though the general public views these terms as synonymous, they are actually distinctly different.

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