Burglary, theft, and robbery are crimes in all states, but get often used synonymously. While they all involve taking property, they all have distinguishing elements. A person in McKinney, Texas, can face different penalties based on the type of crime.
A theft involves the elements of:
- taking property without consent
- acting against the owner’s interest
- intentionally depriving them of property
Some states consider theft and larceny two separate offenses, with larceny being the lesser offense. Larceny commonly means the taking of tangible items while theft can refer to stealing services or intellectual property. Another type of theft is false pretenses, which is the taking of property through misrepresentation of false facts to deprive the owner.
Unlike theft, the charge of burglary, sometimes called breaking and entering, doesn’t have to include taking the property. In the past, laws defined burglar as breaking into a home or structure and only at night, but laws have broadened.
Contrary to popular belief, burglary does not need the element of forceful entry, such as opening an unlocked door without authorization. It can count as burglary, even if the defendant didn’t enter all the way in the building, such as using a crowbar.
The differing element in robbery is taking something from a person using force and fear to deprive the owner of property. Unlike burglary, the elements of breaking and entering do not have to be present, and weapons usually must be present.
Some states may require an element of violence, but a victim does not have to get injured to count as robbery. Mugging is a form of robbery, which commonly takes place in public place, such as sidewalks, and often involves physical attacks.