Burglary vs. Robbery

Robbery vs Burglary

The crimes of robbery and burglary often go together. They are both forms of theft, and involve the intent to take something that does not belong to you, and to take the rightful owner’s enjoyment of that item permanently. The state of Massachusetts has carefully defined essential details in classifying each.

Robbery specifically involves instances of theft whereby the perpetrator has involvement with the owner who possesses their desired item. That involvement includes the awareness of the owner that the robber wants their property. The owner is then influenced, by violence or the threat of violence, to give up their property.

Burglary does not inherently involve the owner of the property that is being stolen. Instead, burglaries involve unlawful entry. At the time the burglar enters the property that he is breaking into, if he intends to commit a crime, then the burglary has been done. This is why burglary is normally part of a two-crime charge. It can be burglary and theft or burglary and assault or many other combinations. The burglary part only has to do with the breaking in and the intent to commit the crime.

Examples of Robbery and Burglary

Robbery, as defined above, can include purse snatching, carjacking, and holding up a local convenience store. These all include the confrontation with the rightful owner, as well as the violence or threat of violence.

For burglary, it is any act of unlawfully entering a premises with the intent to commit a crime. Opening an unlocked door to a home and stealing artwork from the wall would constitute burglary. Also, breaking into an empty house and stealing renovation supplies or builder’s tools would also satisfy requirements for a burglary.

Punishments for Robbery and Burglary

Due to the more serious crimes of robbery and burglary, where there are other people and other premises being involved, it is not surprising that these charges carry some pretty severe punishments, if convicted. Massachusetts state laws provide for the following sentencing guidelines:

With robbery, an unarmed robbery conviction carries a jail sentence that cannot exceed 10 years. With armed robbery, there is a minimum sentence of 5 years in state prison, also with a maximum sentence of 10 years. If that person has a previous record, however, the minimum becomes 15 years.

Burglary, if unarmed has similar sentencing to robbery. Ten years is the maximum. For armed burglary, the minimum is 8 years, but for a repeat armed burglar, the minimum sentence is 15 years that can be even higher with other factors.

Defenses for Robbery and Burglary

With such serious charges that carry such severe punishments, it is imperative to get the most help in formulating a strategy to defend the facts against a conviction. An experienced criminal defense attorney knows how to assess the case and determine what provides the best options for the client under Massachusetts law.

Sometimes it is possible to refute the intent claim, which is an essential part of proving guilt of either of these charges. Other times it may be the methodology used to gather evidence, or conflicting testimonies given during trial. In other cases, the attorney may determine strong cases that can be raised for plea bargaining to give opportunity to accept some responsibility and benefit from a reduced sentence.