What is the difference between robbery and burglary?

If you burglarize a location or rob a person, you could face serious charges and consequences. For example, you may have to spend time in jail, pay a fine or complete community service requirements. 

Although burglary and robbery are often confused, they are separate crimes with differing penalties. The main difference lies in who or what the alleged perpetrator steals from. 

Robbery

The state of New Jersey defines robbery as a situation where when someone commits theft, he or she inflicts bodily injury upon another person, threatens to harm someone else or commits or threatens to commit a first- or second-degree crime. In addition to the threat of physical harm, you have to steal from the actual person or his or her presence. For example, if you lock a store clerk in a back room and then steal from the cash register, you commit robbery. 

Burglary

You commit burglary when you unlawfully enter a building with the objective to steal. This can also constitute trespassing with the intent to steal and then inflicting or intending to inflict serious bodily harm. For instance, if you break into someone’s empty house and steal from him or her, the court will consider the crime burglary. 

Robbery convictions typically come with harsher penalties because of the physical harm element. In New Jersey, robbery is a second-degree crime. However, it becomes a first-degree crime if you purposefully inflict or try to inflict bodily injury, use a deadly weapon or attempt to kill as you steal.