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The Difference Between Theft, Robbery and Burglary Charges and Penalties

Person Stealing Purse From Handbag

Criminal acts are charged differently in the legal system and for good reason. The definition of the crime communicates the severity of the offense. Though most people might consider the words theft, robbery, and burglary to be synonymous, they hold very specific meanings in the eyes of the law and within the walls of the courtroom.

Theft generally refers to taking property from another person, robbery implies the use of force or coercion, and burglary involves illegally entering a property. Let’s take a deeper look at some examples of these crimes and a deeper look at their legal definitions.

How Theft, Robbery, and Burglary Are Defined

What is the Definition of Theft?

Theft involves removing assets or property from another person. To be labeled as a theft, the offense needs to demonstrate the following:

  • The defendant taking physical control of the property or asset with no intention of returning
  • The asset or property is taken without consent
  • The asset or property must be a tangible item

Some examples of theft include:

  • Shoplifting
  • Pickpocketing
  • Stealing a vehicle
  • Stealing credit card or personal information
  • Taking a piece of personal property from someone during an argument

What is the definition of Robbery?

While similar to theft, robbery involves stealing property or attempting to commit a theft with the use of force, coercion, or through intimidation.

Some examples of robbery include:

  • Robbing an individual at gunpoint or using violence as a threat
  • Holding up a store or establishment and using a note to communicate a threat of violence if money is not surrendered
  • Stealing a vehicle by attacking a driver with your fists or using a weapon

What is the definition of Burglary?

For a crime to be defined as a burglary, a person needs to illegally enter a building and remove a piece of property without interacting with the owner of the property.

Burglary charges can also be pursued when:

  • The defendant doesn’t physically enter the structure, but reaches into the property to remove an object
  • The defendant doesn’t forcibly enter the building and enters through an unlocked door or window
  • The defendant commits the crime in a non-residential structure, such as a natural formation or a temporary structure, such as a tent.

Some common examples of burglary include:

  • Breaking into a home and removing an appliance
  • Entering an unlocked window and removing a piece of furniture

What are the penalties for Theft, Robbery, and Burglary in Maryland?

Penalties for Theft in Maryland

There are three categories of theft in Maryland.

  1. Petty Theft

    The stolen property is valued at $100 or less. This type of theft is a misdemeanor and individuals may face up to 90 days in jail and up to a $500 fine.
  1. Misdemeanor Theft

    A misdemeanor theft is when property is stolen that is valued between $100 to $1,000. Individuals can face up to 18 months in jail and a $500 fine.
  1. Felony Theft

    A felony theft is when property is stolen and valued between $1,000 to $10,000. Individuals may face up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Penalties for Robbery in Maryland

Robbery in Maryland is a little more straightforward than theft.

Committing a robbery in Maryland will earn you up to 15 years of jail time and up to 20 years of jail time if the robbery is done with a dangerous weapon.

Penalties for Burglary in Maryland

Similar to thefts, burglary charges range from misdemeanors to felonies.

  1. First-Degree Burglary

    A First-Degree Burglary is felony. The jail time depends on the intent of the individual varies depending on the intent of the individual and the type of structure they entered when committing the crime.

    Individuals can face up to 20 years of jail time for the intent to commit the crime and up to 25 years in jail for the intent to commit a violent crime.
  1. Second-Degree Burglary

    A Second-Degree Burglary is a felony where an individual enters a building illegally and can face up to 15 years of jail time for the intent to commit theft, violence, or arson.

    If showing the intent to steal a firearm, an individual can face up to 20 years of jail time and a fine of up to $10,000.
  1. Third-Degree Burglary

    A Third-Degree Burglary is considered a felony and an individual can face up to 10 years of jail time for entering a property illegally with the intent to commit a crime.
  1. Fourth-Degree Burglary

    A Fourth-Degree Burglary is a misdemeanor charge that can see up to 3 years of jail time.

Are You Facing a Theft, Robbery or Burglary Charge? We’re here to help

The Albers and Associates team has extensive experience in representing criminal defense cases. We’ll help you navigate the legal process and ensure you get the justice you deserve.

We have offices in Westminster, Timonium, Frederick, Columbia, Baltimore City, and Dundalk. You can view the contact information for each location here.

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