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What are the differences between robbery, burglary and theft?

If you are a New Jersey resident charged with allegedly committing one or more stealing crimes, you may be unclear about the differences between robbery, burglary and theft. As FindLaw explains, all three of these crimes relate to each other, but they are distinctly different

If the charge against you is committing theft, sometimes called larceny, the prosecutor will attempt to prove that you unlawfully took someone else's personal property without his or her permission and with the intent of permanently depriving him or her of it.

Robbery

If the charge against you is committing robbery, the prosecutor will attempt to prove that you unlawfully stole someone's personal property using a weapon or some other form of physical force. If the prosecutor proves beyond a reasonable doubt that you put your victim in fear of physical danger if (s)he did not surrender the property to you, this, too, is robbery.

Burglary

If the charge against you is committing burglary, the prosecutor does not need to prove that you actually stole anything. All (s)he needs to prove is that you unlawfully entered a home or business with the intent to commit a crime once inside. While the stereotypical burglar as portrayed in the movies and on TV is the cat burglar, dressed all in black and making his way up trellises or across roofs at night to gain entry and steal the jewels, any form of entering will do to prove burglary. You did not have to break into the building by force. You could have entered through an unlocked door.

In addition, not only did you not have to steal something, you did not have to commit any crime at all once inside. Your unlawful entry in and of itself is sufficient to prove burglary if you did so with the intent to commit a crime once inside.

This is general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice.

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