Understanding the Difference between Robbery, Burglary, and Theft

Posted by Neil Shouse | Jun 17, 2010 | 0 Comments

These three California offenses are very closely related…and commonly confused. This is because each one shares “elements” with the other. Let me explain.

Penal Code 211 PC California's robbery law punishes the act of taking someone else's property from that person's “immediate presence” when accomplished by force or fear. Penal Code 211 PC California's robbery law is the most serious of these three crimes.

If you don't use force or fear to accomplish the taking…or if the property isn't in the person's “immediate presence”, then you simply have a theft. Grand theft if the property's value exceeds $400, petty theft if the value is $400 or below.

And, despite common misconception, a burglary under California law doesn't necessarily involve stealing. A burglary takes place when you enter a building and already have the intent to commit a felony or to steal.

This means that if you go into a house…and intend to steal once inside…you have committed burglary and theft. If during that time, someone comes home and you threaten to harm him if he stops you from taking more property, you have committed robbery, burglary, and theft.

But if you enter a store, simply intending to shop…and only form the intent to steal once inside…you don't commit a burglary. And whether you use force or fear to accomplish the taking will determine whether or not you are only guilty of theft or also of robbery. (Also read our article, "Three California Crimes Often Charged During Emergencies.")

About the Author

Neil Shouse

Southern California DUI Defense attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT).


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Comments have been disabled.

Free attorney consultations...

Our attorneys want to hear your side of the story. Contact us 24/7 to schedule a FREE consultation with a criminal defense lawyer. We may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed altogether. And if necessary, we will champion your case all the way to trial.

Regain peace of mind...

Shouse Law Defense Group has multiple locations throughout California. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.

Office Locations

Shouse Law Group has multiple locations all across California, Nevada, and Colorado. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.

To contact us, please select your state:

Call us 24/7 (855) 396-0370