Robbery, Burglary, and Theft: What’s the Difference?

Stockton Criminal Law AttorneyThose who have been victimized by thieves and burglars don’t spend much time thinking about the differences between robberies, burglaries, and theft. After all, telling someone that you were “robbed” conveys the message clearly enough.

On the legal side of things however, each term is used to describe a different scenario. Under California criminal law, robberies, burglaries, and thefts have a precise definition. For this post, we thought it would be good to go over these differences and explain exactly what each term entails.


Theft, also referred to as larceny, is used to describe the simple act of taking another person’s property. In other words, this is the “basic charge.” The value of the stolen property determines whether theft is classified under petty theft or grand theft, which dictates potential penalties such as fines and jail time.


Robberies are similar to theft, but with the added element of violence, force, or fear. Coercing someone to give up their belongings falls under this term. The victim must have been present while the robbery took place, and if a place was “robbed” when the owner was not present, the term robbery does not apply.


Finally, burglaries are those actions where a person breaks into a home or property to commit a crime. This is why we say that homes were “burgled.” Note that, even if a person does not steal any property, a burglary charge could still apply if he/she broke into a property without the owner’s consent.

Talk to Our Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys

There you have it, this post should help clear up the differences between thieves, robbers, and burglars. Of course, this is a very simple overview of a complex legal topic. If you want to learn more, and to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our criminal defense attorneys, we invite you to call us at the Jacot Law Firm at your earliest convenience!

Call today to speak with a qualified CA criminal defense attorney.