People often use the words burglary, theft and robbery as if they are all just different words for the exact same thing. However, from a legal perspective, they’re definitely not. That’s important to know when facing charges, as the terms used to define the actual charges you’re facing and the penalties that come along with them. 

For instance, burglary is actually more connected to breaking and entering. It is a criminal act, entering a building to carry out some type of illegal activity. That could mean stealing money or gun or electronics. But it may not. The perpetrator could also vandalize the home or cause other types of property damage. That’s still technically burglary, even if they did not take anything. 

A robbery, though, starts with threatening someone. For instance, if someone comes up to you and threatens to strike you if you don’t give them your wallet, they’ve robbed you by taking the wallet. If they come into your home with a gun and threaten to shoot you if you don’t let them take the television, that’s an armed robbery. This is much more in line with the idea of theft than burglary.

Can a crime be both? Sure. Someone could break into a house (burglary) and then threaten someone and steal their items (robbery). But they are not always the same, even if they can happen together. 

It’s important not to use words interchangeably when facing legal charges. That distorts their meaning. Even if this is done all the time in popular culture, the legal experience is different. If you’re facing charges, you need to know exactly what they mean and how to defend yourself. Consider the value of an experienced defense attorney to your case.