What is the Difference Between Robbery and Burglary?

Updated on 08/10/2023 / Under

Times have gotten extremely hard for many Americans, and many Illinois citizens. Between millions of citizens losing their jobs in 2020, the rising cost of inflation affecting the country, and the holidays approaching, many people are having trouble making ends meet. While you might be getting desperate, there are resources, such as various places of worship or shelters, that can help. You should never turn to theft to help yourself survive. 

If you have made a desperate mistake, it is important to understand that this does not mean you are a bad person. Doing what you can to survive is a normal human instinct, but in today's society, it can lead to very harsh consequences. If you have made a desperate mistake and are facing robbery, burglary, or theft charges in Illinois, Ktena's Law is here to help.

What Charges are Categorized Under Theft?

There are several different theft charges, robbery and burglary being two of them. There are also petit larceny, grand larceny, and petty theft, which are all various types of theft charges. Each charge has its own qualifications, with small but important details that decide which charge a person will receive, and each different charge comes with a different guideline for sentencing.

The biggest difference between robbery and burglary charges is that a robbery charge involves some kind of threat of bodily harm to the person or place being robbed. This means that the perpetrator uses a weapon of some kind, such as a firearm or baseball bat or the threat of boodle harm, in order to threaten someone during the act. Robbery is normally referred to as armed robbery. 

Chicago theft lawyer Alex Ktenas

Unlike regular theft, burglary involves trespassing onto property owned by another person in order to steal from them. Burglary charges are often accompanied by breaking and entering charges, especially in the case of breaking into a house or car in order to steal contents from either. Even if you do not end up stealing anything, breaking and entering into private property or private vehicles is often enough to be charged with attempted burglary. 

Regular theft, or petty theft, normally encompasses events such as shoplifting from a private business, or stealing from roommates, family members you live with, etc. To be charged with just basic theft, you must steal from a place you are allowed to be, but take things you aren't allowed to take. 

What are the Sentencing Guidelines for the Various Types of Theft? 

During sentencing, the details of the crime are extremely important, as they decide what charges you will receive. For robbery, a person will most likely be charged with a Class 1 or Class 2 Felony. This depends on who the victim of the robbery is, as crimes against the elderly, disabled, or minors will always be charged as a Class 1 Felony, and whether or not there was a threat of violence or it was actually a violent crime.

While the sentencing for first-degree robbery and second-degree robbery is different, they both share one important detail: they are a crime of violence and not eligible for parole at any point. Robbery can be charged anywhere from 1-15 years for second degree, and 10-25 years for first degree. 

an image of a man stealing a product form a store

For burglary, there are also several different options for sentencing. 

  • First-degree burglary: committed at someones place of residence, a place of worship, or any types of childcare facility, 4 to 15 years in federal prison. 
  • Second-degree burglary: burglary committed or attempted at any other location, 3 to 7 years in federal prison. 
  • Possession of burglary tools: an additional charge on top of burglary charges, a Class 4 felony with additional sentencing between 1 to 3 years in federal prison. 

Unlike robbery and burglary, theft is normally a misdemeanor, unless you steal items with a value over $300. If the items stolen are worth less than $300, this is considered petty theft, or petit larceny, and you will be charged with a misdemeanor. You will be required to pay back the person you stole from in reparations, as well as pay a $2500 fine, and spend up to 1 year in jail.

However, as the value of the things you stole increases, you can be charged with a felony anywhere between Class 3 to Class 1, and the sentencing can range anywhere from 4 years to 15 years of jail time, often without an option for probation depending on the amount stolen. 

Learn More: What are Your Rights After an Arrest?

What to do if You are Facing Robbery or Burglary Charges

If you are being charged with robbery, burglary, or theft, it's important to make sure you provide your criminal defense lawyer with as many details as possible. The prosecutor will be attempting to charge you as harshly as possible while attempting to convince a jury that you had nefarious intent. 

What you stole, and how you stole it, can make all the difference in your case. If you broke into a store after hours and stole baby formula, for example, your intent was to make sure your child could eat, and that can make a judge and jury very sympathetic towards you.

If you commit unlawful entry to any building simply to get out of the cold, and you are being charged with intent to commit burglary, an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney can help get your charges lowered to breaking and entering since there are separate crimes. Breaking and entering doesn't always carry a felony charge, unlike burglary and attempted burglary. 

It is important that you be open and honest with your attorney. Hiding detail or lying to your attorney will only hurt you in the end. If you used a dangerous weapon, threatened or caused bodily injury, are facing other criminal charges, etc, your legal counsel needs to know. 

Call Our Firm for a Free Consultation

No matter the theft penalties you are being charged with, the experienced attorneys at Ktenas Law are here to help you. We know that everyone makes mistakes, and that desperate times call for desperate measures. No one deserves to spend their life in prison over trying to survive. Call us today at 312-756-8652 for a free consultation, and together we can get your future back on track.