For anyone who’s facing criminal charges in the state of Washington for theft, burglary, or robbery; it’s important to understand the differences between these three acts. Although these terms are frequently used interchangeably, they have very distinct meanings. In some instances, they also entail vastly different penalties.
Theft is taking property that does not belong to you
Theft is an intentional act. Theft is taking property from someone else, without their express consent. To be charged with theft, it isn’t necessary to take an item by force, unlawfully enter someone else’s property, or even threaten the use of force. Depending upon the total value of the items taken, a person might be charged with either petty theft or grand theft.
Robbery is theft that involves the use of force or the threat of force
Robbery differs from theft in that the individual committing the crime has either taken the stolen items by force, or has threatened to use force to steal them. Not having a physical weapon during a robbery is not an effective criminal defense. With robbery, there is no need to have an actual weapon on hand at the time that the crime was committed. Whether pointing a gun at the property owner or custodian of the stolen property, or merely threatening to, an individual who has taken items by either force or threatened force will be charged with robbery.
Burglary is all about unlawful entry and intent
Burglary differs from both theft and robbery in that no items need to be taken during these crimes. A person who has unlawfully entered any property with the intention of committing any another crime while inside has committed burglary. Some people break into and enter buildings with the goal of stealing, while others may seek to vandalize the building’s interior, kidnap one of its occupants, or cause other harm.
For defendants, understanding the nature of the crime that’s been committed is only the first step in staging an effective defense. It’s additionally important to get knowledgeable legal representation. With the right help, it may be possible to greatly minimize both the immediate and long-term impact of these charges.