Mark A. Bailey Attorney at Law

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Are Burglary, Theft And Robbery The Same?

Burglary, theft and robbery are just three different words for stealing from somebody, right? I’m Mark-Anthony Bailey, and as an experienced trial lawyer, I know that the legal meanings of these three words are all unique. Even though they all involve taking property from another person, they have three definitions in the eyes of the law. Here are the differences between burglary, theft and robbery:


According to New Jersey law, stealing does not need to happen for a burglary to take place. A burglary occurs when a person trespasses and enters a property to commit any crime. There is no encounter with anyone. If the burglar has a weapon, the prison sentence can be up to 10 years.


Theft, sometimes called larceny in certain jurisdictions, involves stealing property with the intent never to return the property to the rightful owner. In New Jersey, theft crimes can range from petty theft to a second-degree offense. Examples are:

  • Shoplifting
  • Theft by deception
  • Extortion

This means that someone who steals another person’s possession without consent while trespassing on that person’s property will get charged with two crimes. The charges and penalties for theft get stiffer as the value of the property rises. The sentence for second-degree theft can be up to 10 years and carry a hefty fine.


Robbery has elements of theft, but adds actual force or a threat of violence in the act of stealing another’s property. Robbery consists of:

  • Taking someone else’s property without permission
  • Using threats and force to obtain property unlawfully
  • The proven intention to make the owner’s loss of property permanent

Like a theft charge, as the value of the property involved in a robbery offense increases, so do the penalties. The penalty for second-degree robbery can be five to 10 years in prison, and a first-degree robbery charge penalty can be as much as 20 years.

Contact Me Today

Whether you face a burglary, theft or robbery charge, you need a lawyer who will advocate for your rights aggressively in your criminal defense. Call me today at The Bailey Firm in Middlesex or New Brunswick at 973-854-9478 or use the online contact form to schedule a free attorney consultation about your case.