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Many people hear the terms robbery and burglary used interchangeably in everyday conversations, but don’t realize there is actually a major difference between the two. While both terms involve the unlawful taking of someone else’s property, the two are very different crimes.

A robbery considered a “strike offense” in the state of California, is a serious crime that involves taking something from someone by force, violence or threat. A simple theft can become a robbery in certain circumstances. For example, if you take a sandwich from a store and the owner sees you and attempts to grab the sandwich from you, and you pull the sandwich away, it has become a robbery even with the use of this minimal level of force. While that may sound like a small way to escalate an offense, it involves force and another person.

A burglary is defined as unlawful entry into a residential or commercial building or locked vehicle with the intent to commit a felony or theft inside. In general, a burglary does not require the presence of another person, nor violence or force of any kind. During a burglary, the accused must have the intent to commit theft from a residential or commercial building or locked vehicle with the intent to commit a felony or theft therein. A burglary can be a strike offense as well depending on the degree. For more on the differences between the two and the steps you should take consult with an Oakland theft defense attorney today.

Why Is the Difference Important?

Because the law is so nuanced, it important that these categories are defined and the differences are understood by a defendant in such cases. Understanding the severity of a criminal charge you are facing can make a difference in how you strategize with your attorney and plan your defense. It is also important to note that there are degrees within each of the categories of crimes the accused should understand as well.

Degrees of Burglary

There are two degrees of burglary, and they each involve specific charges—with one always being a felony offense, and the other either a “wobbler” — a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the particulars of the burglary that has taken place. The first-degree burglary involves stealing from a place that is residential, an inhabited dwelling, which would be a home, houseboat, apartment or any other place where people live. First-degree burglary is always a felony strike offense and carries a 2 – 6-year sentence in state prison, up to $10,000 in fines and no offer of probation. Second-degree burglary, on the other hand, involves stealing from any building that is not residential in nature, and if charged as a felony can carry 16 months – 3 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. If charged with a misdemeanor, a second-degree burglary sentence can involve 1 year in county jail and up to $1,000 in fines. There are enhancements that will be considered as well for instance if explosives are present if a person is a home during a burglary, etc.

Degrees of Robbery

Robbery also comes in two degrees, and as mentioned involves force or threat and another person. In a robbery case, it is important to note that the value of what is taken from a person does not matter, as it is the use of force or threat that classifies the offense as a robbery. The first-degree robbery involves robbing a driver or passenger of a vehicle for hire, an inhabited residence, or robbing people or individuals who are using or just finished using an ATM. The first-degree robbery can carry a sentence of up to 9 years in a California state prison. Second-degree robbery sentences can carry sentences up to 5 years in state prison. If you have hurt someone during the commission of a robbery, or used or fired a gun, or robbed more than one person, etc. the robbery offense is enhanced and years can be added to your sentence.

At The Nieves Law Firm, we know how confusing the law can be for those accused of robbery or burglary crimes. We understand it can be a stressful time and if charged with a robbery or burglary you need somebody that understands the varying degrees, understands the possible defenses, and what a potential conviction means for your livelihood. You need an experienced, calm hand to guide you through it and our attorneys at The Nieves Law Firm are equipped with the tools to help you present a strong defense.

For more information on Robbery and Burglary, a free 30-minute phone consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (510) 779-2082 today.

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