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How are theft, robbery and burglary different?

If you are accused of stealing something in Virginia, you could face charges of theft, robbery or burglary depending on what you allegedly did and how you allegedly did it. All three of these are property crimes, but while similar, each is its own separate crime and requires its own separate evidence in order to convict you.

The evidence to convict you of theft, a/k/a larceny, must establish that you stole personal property from someone with the intent not only to steal it, but also to permanently deprive your victim of it.

Robbery

For a robbery conviction, the evidence must establish the same act and intent as in theft plus the fact that you used a weapon to sufficiently threaten your victim that (s)he feared imminent bodily harm if (s)he failed to give you what you wanted.

Burglary

Burglary is totally different from theft or robbery. To convict you of burglary, the evidence must establish that you illegally entered a building intending to commit a crime once inside. The crime you intended to commit did not necessarily have to be stealing; it could have been any crime. In addition, you can be convicted of burglary even if you did not actually commit the crime you intended. Burglary, in other words, is all about your intent and your illegal entry.

Be aware that burglary is not the same as breaking and entering, which constitutes a fourth separate property crime. You may receive a burglary conviction if the evidence establishes that you illegally entered the building through an open window or unlocked door with the intent to commit your crime once inside. If you physically broke a locked door or window to gain entry, that is breaking and entering, not burglary.

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Whitestone Young, PC
10513 Judicial Drive Suite 300
Fairfax, VA 22030-7528

Phone: 703-260-7265
Phone: 703-591-0200
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