As a Texas criminal defense law firm, we often receive questions about the differences between robbery and burglary, as well as the legal consequences attached to each. While the two terms may be used interchangeably in casual conversation, the law makes an important distinction between the two, and understanding these distinctions could mean the difference between facing a minor charge or a serious felony.
Robbery & Burglary Aren’t Similar at All
Robbery and burglary are not the same crimes, and the law treats them differently. Robbery is the act of taking someone's property by force, threat, or intimidation. Burglary, on the other hand, is the act of entering a building or premises without authorization with the intent to commit a crime, such as theft.
Although both crimes involve taking someone's property, robbery requires the use of force or fear, while burglary involves unauthorized entry with the intent to commit a crime.
Robbery Is Considered a Violent Crime
A key distinction between robbery and burglary is the level of harm inflicted on the victim. Because robbery involves the use of force or fear, it’s considered a violent crime and carries harsher penalties. Depending on the severity of the crime, a robbery conviction may result in a lengthy prison sentence, hefty fines, and a permanent criminal record.
In contrast, burglary is considered a property crime, and its legal consequences are typically less severe than those of robbery. However, burglary charges can still lead to jail or prison time, especially if the perpetrator caused significant damage to the property during the burglary.
Intent Is a Factor for Both Crimes
Another important distinction between robbery and burglary is the degree of intent required to commit each crime. Robbery requires the intent to take someone's property by force or fear, while burglary requires the intent to enter a building or premises without authorization for the purpose of committing a crime.
In other words, robbery involves the intent to take property from a victim, while burglary involves the intent to enter a property unlawfully.
Penalties for Robbery & Burglary
We already discussed that the penalties for robbery are typically harsher than for burglary, but what exactly does that mean in Texas? Consider the following breakdown of the potential penalties for either crime.
Robbery Penalties in Texas
Robbery is always charged as a felony in Texas, but it may be charged in one of three degrees:
- Third-degree robbery is the least serious charge, and it usually involves threatening a victim with a dangerous weapon during a robbery. It may be punished with 2-10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
- Second-degree robbery involves the threat of imminent bodily harm but doesn’t involve a weapon. Convictions can result in a prison sentence of 2-20 years and a maximum fine of $10,000.
- First-degree robbery is the most serious charge, often involving the use of a deadly weapon or seriously harming the victim. Convictions result in a minimum prison sentence of five year, but judges can issue sentences up to 99 years. This crime also incurs a $10,000 maximum fine.
Burglary Penalties in Texas
The severity of a burglary charge depends on whether the building unlawfully entered was a residence or not. If the building isn’t a residence, then burglary may be charged as a state jail felony; if the building is a residence, then burglary may be charged as either a second-degree or first-degree felony.
If convicted of burglary as a state jail felony, a defendant may be sentenced to a state jail for up to two years. A second-degree burglary conviction can result in a prison sentence of 2-20 years, while a first-degree burglary conviction can result in a life sentence.
Burglaries may be charged as first-degree felonies when another felony was committed during the burglary or there was intent to do so. For example, breaking into a home with the intent to assault an occupant can result in a first-degree burglary charge.
Real-Life Scenarios Can Make Things Complicated
The legal distinctions between robbery and burglary may seem straightforward, but in real life, things can get complicated. For instance, a person may be charged with both robbery and burglary if they break into a building and use force or threat to steal property. Similarly, if a person enters a property without permission but does not steal anything, they may be charged with criminal trespassing instead of burglary.
These examples demonstrate why it’s crucial to seek legal counsel and representation if you are facing criminal charges. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you navigate the complexities of the legal system and protect your rights.
Do You Need Legal Assistance?
At our Rodriguez & Gimbert, P.L.L.C., we are committed to protecting our clients' rights and freedoms, and we have a proven track record of success in defending clients against robbery, burglary, and other criminal charges.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn how we can help you.