Robbery vs Burglary: What Is the Difference?

People may assume that “burglary” and “robbery” are interchangeable terms. However, a Greenville defense attorney understands they are different. It’s not uncommon for someone to be charged with robbery and burglary, but the two are distinct offenses.

This article explains the difference between robbery and burglary and key facts about each crime. Don’t hesitate to contact Boatwright Legal to protect your rights.

How a Greenville Criminal Defense Attorney Defines the Terms

Robbery” and “burglary” are commonly used to describe theft.  However, what many people do not realize is that only one of those terms is directly linked to the act of thievery.

Let’s break it down by analyzing the legal definitions for each term.

  • Burglary: Breaking & entering into a structure with the intent of committing a crime.
  • Robbery: Taking property from a person through intimidation, threat, or force.

Once you break into any property with the intent of committing any crime (not necessarily a robbery), then you could be charged with burglary. However, you are only charged with robbery or attempted robbery if it can be proven that you attempted to take or actually took property from someone else using one of those three methods.

How Can a Prosecutor Prove Burglary in South Carolina? 

To prove that an accused person is guilty of burglary in South Carolina, the prosecutor has the weighty burden of proving that two key factors were involved:

  1. The person entered a property without consent.
  2. The person intended to commit a crime within the property.

There are three degrees to burglary charges that must be considered based on the circumstances of the case.

  • First Degree: You enter a dwelling (property used for lodging/sleeping by a person) without permission with the intent to commit a crime within the building. Aggravating circumstances exist.
  • Second Degree: You enter a building without permission with the intent to commit a crime within the building. Whether there are aggravating circumstances will determine the severity of this degree and how it is handled in court.
  • Third Degree: You enter a building without consent and without permission. No aggravating circumstances exist.

breaking and entering is a serious offense

What Are “Aggravating Circumstances?” 

As mentioned above, “aggravating circumstances” play a key role in the determination of the charges filed against you and the handling of your case. What, exactly, are aggravating circumstances?  These are the additional factors that branch off of the primary act of burglary.

Several key questions are asked to determine if these aggravating circumstances exist:

  • Did the act of burglary occur at nighttime?
  • Do you have two or more prior convictions of breaking & entering and/or burglary?
  • Were you armed with a deadly weapon?
  • Did you threaten, force, or intimidate anyone with a deadly weapon?
  • Was anyone physically injured during the criminal act?
  • Was there a firearm or knife on display during the act (such as a visible holster or tucked in your pants)?

Once again, the burden of proof rests solely in the hands of the state prosecutor. Your Greenville criminal attorney will focus on the evidence and/or witness testimony available to dissect how solid the prosecutor’s case is against you.

What are the Different Types of Robbery Charges? 

There are two different categories of robbery: armed robbery and strong-arm robbery. To simplify this further, it breaks down to one simple question, “Did you use a weapon during the robbery?”

A strong-arm robbery relies on intimidation and bodily force to steal property. However, an actual weapon must not be involved at all. On the other hand, armed robbery requires the use of a weapon.

Both types of robberies are felonies. However, a strong-arm robbery can land a convicted felon in prison for a maximum of 15 years. An armed robbery could lead to a sentence that is twice as long.

Schedule Your Free Consultation Today

If you or a loved one is accused of robbery or burglary, don’t wait to contact a Greenville criminal defense lawyer. Call Boatwright Legal today to schedule your free consultation, review the pertinent details of your case, and create an action plan to get started building your defense as soon as possible.